Everyday Empathy

June 8, 2022

As we shift our mindset from “staying at home” to “learning to live” with COVID, it is more important than ever to practice empathy, for others and ourselves. Here are four simple ways to cultivate empathy and use it every day.

Text that reads “1 in 5 Canadians experienced a mental illness in 2021”. Representation of 1 in 5 peoples.

These past two years, the pandemic has taken a toll on our collective wellness. It has tested our ability to remain strong, adaptable and positive in an environment that is stressful and full of unknowns. 

Studies conducted on Canadian’s mental health in 2021 showed that one in five people in Canada personally experienced a mental health challenge or illness. It also showed that by age 40, about 50% of the Canadian population will have or have had a mental illness.1

As we shift our mindset from “staying at home” to “learning to live” with COVID, it is more important than ever to practice empathy, for others and ourselves. Practicing empathy helps us regulate our emotions, connect with others, and feel less isolated.2

What is empathy?

Text that reads: Empathy “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” The word empathy originates from the Greek work empatheia which when broken down means em- ‘in’ and pathos ‘feeling’.


Do you have the ability to understand and share the feelings of another? There is good news if your answer is no. Empathy can be learned and practiced. 

There are two types3 of empathy: 

  • Affective empathy: how you respond to another person’s emotions, such as getting anxious when another person is nervous. 
  • Cognitive empathy: you can put yourself in the perspective of another person and relate to their emotions. For example, you know that your friend doesn’t like dogs because of a traumatic experience and you try to avoid those situations with them.

How to nurture empathy
You can nurture empathy by practicing these four ways.4

Text and icons that read: Listen actively, talk about feelings openly, be present and mindful, hold back judgement and be understanding


Empathy can help us know ourselves and our feelings. It can help us lead, communicate, support and connect with others. In a time where we are trying to find our rhythm in a new normal, there are simple ways to show compassion and empathy to those you love, and especially those you don’t know at all.

Access mental wellness resources 

With an understanding that mental wellness is an integral part of a healthy family and work life, the ETFO ELHT is committed to supporting you with benefits and tools that nurture your mental well-being.

Your benefits plan includes coverage for mental health counselling up to $2,000 annually, to use towards visits with approved mental health practitioners.  

For more information, you can check your benefits booklet to see which service providers are covered by your plan to support your mental health. Your benefits booklet includes benefit plan terms and coverage details and is updated on a regular basis to reflect any changes or updates to your plan. 

In addition to the coverage under your ELHT benefits plan, all ETFO ELHT plan members have access to mental wellness resources including:

  • FeelingBetterNow® is offered through the OTIP LTD program and allows any member to access mental health tools tailored to your needs. Create an account and get started. 
  • Starling Minds is offered through OTIP in conjunction with ETFO and can help support you with managing stress, anxiety, burnout and depression. To access member.starlingminds.com, contact your union at the ETFO Provincial office or your local ETFO representative for your access code.

Need more mental wellness resources? Check out our resources to connect you with the tools you need.

1N.a. (N.d). Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Retrieved on April 22, 2022 from www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics 
2Manoylov, M. K., & Bash, A. R. (2020, December 28). 5 tips to be more empathetic in your relationships and daily life. Insider. Retrieved April 22, 2022, from www.insider.com/guides/health/mental-health/how-to-be-empathetic#:~:text=To%20be%20more%20empathetic%2C%20try,each%20other%2C%22%20Krishnan%20says 
3Practicing empathy helps us regulate our emotions, connect with others and feel less isolated, writes Helen Fishburn , www.mentalhealthweek.ca/the-power-of-empathy/
4Canadian Mental Health Association. (N.d). Empathy: A skill you can learn. Retrieved on April 22, 2022 from www.mentalhealthweek.ca/empathy-a-skill-you-can-learn/
ETFO Employee Life and Health Trust (ELHT). All Rights Reserved | Privacy and Terms of Use