Mental and Emotional Health

Although HIV is primarily a disease of your physical body, it can also affect your outlook on life and your emotional and mental health. Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and addictions, are more common among people with HIV. And a higher proportion of people with HIV have lived through traumatic life events.

For some, an HIV diagnosis can intensify struggles that were there before. For others, an HIV diagnosis or facing stigma can lead to a sense of isolation and create new challenges.

Paying attention to emotional well-being is an important part of living well with HIV. When you feel well, you are more likely to take your HIV treatment as prescribed, to see your doctor regularly, and to take care of yourself.

Finding what works best for you is an ongoing and dynamic process. What works for you may be different from what works for the next person, and it may change over time.

Many people with HIV find that talking to other people with HIV to be extremely helpful. You can contact your local HIV organization and ask if they can connect you to an individual and/or group. (To find an HIV organization near you, visit and search for counselling and support services.)

Many of these organizations provide comprehensive therapeutic care—counselling and support groups as well as wellness services like massage, complementary therapies, acupuncture and diet-related advice. Some also offer supports for the basic necessities of life—housing, food, employment, social safety—which are essential to our emotional well-being.

For some people, mental health issues may become more serious and require medication or treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist. Speak to your doctor or local HIV organization about connecting with a mental health professional if you think this is right for you. If you are in crisis, you can call Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566.

To learn more about HIV and emotional wellness, check out:

HIV and Emotional Wellness – A resource that explores common emotional health concerns, such as stress, anxiety, depression and addictions. It offers practical advice on how to achieve and sustain a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Want more information? Visit:

Canadian Mental Health Association – A national community mental health organization providing services across the country.

Realize – A national organization that responds to the rehabilitation needs of people living with HIV.