Executive Director, ConnexOntario
With thousands of government-funded mental health and addiction resources and programs available, there’s no reason to struggle alone.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem in any given year — and 2020 sure feels different than just any given year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased fear, stress, and worry for many Canadians, and instances of anxiety disorders are on the rise according to Brad Davey, Executive Director of ConnexOntario, a system navigation and information service that provides support for those in need. The organization tracks the over 4,200 government-funded mental health and addiction programs in Ontario and provides free, confidential, personalized referrals.
With support offered via telephone, web chat, and email 24/7, ConnexOntario provides accurate and up-to-date addiction, mental health, and problem gambling information to Ontarians who need help. “The COVID-19 lockdown has raised all sorts of additional issues for people,” says Davey. “They should reach out, because help is out there.”
Online resources: fast, free, and confidential
“The COVID-19 crisis has really affected how programs deliver services,” says Davey. With face-to-face services having decreased significantly, many programs have shifted to online platforms. There’s a plethora of online resources and programs available, many of which Davey notes have the added benefit of no wait times. “Online resources are there for you when you need them right away,” he says.
Popular online mental health resources during the pandemic include the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) being provided through services like MindBeacon and Mindability, the guided self-help program BounceBack, the peer-to-peer support community Big White Wall, and the youth-targeted program mindyourmind. “We’re getting more progressive with regard to online types of help, which people like for a number of reasons,” says Davey. “You don’t have to leave your home and it’s very anonymous.”
The organization also has an app, ConnexGO, which increases accessibility and provides easy access to its extensive database of services and programs. The app allows users to find the nearest 24/7 crisis service and to bookmark services they’re interested in.