Ontario Increasing Mental Health Support During COVID-19

Ontario announces additional funding for mental health support during COVID19

The Ontario government is providing $14.6 million in emergency funding to the mental health supports during the COVID-19 outbreak.  The announcement was made today as part of Premier Doug Ford’s daily briefing.

It’s never been more important for Ontarians to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As they do, we need to provide them with the supports they need to stay mentally healthy during these challenging times as more Ontarians experience heightened anxiety and depression.”  $12 million being used to immediately expand online and virtual mental health resources.

The services will help people suffering from anxiety, stress, and other mental health challenges.  The investment will allow agencies to hire and train staff, buy necessary equipment and additional licenses. The expansion will be based on evidence-informed cognitive behavioural therapy on a wide range of platforms including:

  • BounceBack: A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.
  • Kids Help Phone: 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French at 1-800-668-6868.
  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Online CBT , supported by therapists; available in English and French.
  • iCBT for frontline health care workers: Online CBT targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care.
  • Training for Brief CBT-based interventions: Training will be provided to frontline workers in organizations such as Telehealth and emergency departments in order to better support individuals experiencing acute anxiety due to the pandemic.

OPP to Hire Mental Health Workers

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will get $2.6 million to hire additional mental health workers. “Dealing with an evolving crisis like COVID-19 puts a lot of stress on everyone, including people who are self-isolating, families with kids out of school, and the frontline health care workers and first responders who are keeping us safe each and every day,” Ford said.  The mental health workers was one of 66 recommendations made by the Independent Panel Review issued in October, 2019.

The new mental health workers will:

  • Provide clinical services to members of all ranks and make referrals to external services if needed;
  • Develop and deliver mental health support programming specific to unique policing needs (e.g. geographical, specialized services, cultural);
  • Facilitate educational programs to both uniform and civilian members to reduce stigma and promote resiliency and access to help when facing mental health challenges; and
  • Provide guidance in peer support programs.

“With this new assistance, OPP personnel will get access to the mental health support they need to continue protecting our communities,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said.

Where can I find help?

  • For Ontarians over 18:  ConnexOntario a resource for those interested in public addictions supports, and mental health services.  Or call: 1-866-531-2600
  • Children and youth under 19 visit Ontario.ca or Kids Help Phone online, or at: 1-800-668-6868.
  • Good2 Talk: A free, confidential mental health support service providing counselling, information, and referrals for addictions, mental health and well being to post-secondary students.
  •  To access BounceBack and their guided self-help program using workbooks with phone coaching support, visit bouncebackontario.ca or ask your primary care provider for a referral.