Member Update: May 5, 2020

Province Expands Virtual Mental Health Services

Starting today, the Ontario government is expanding virtual mental health services to help Ontarians experiencing anxiety and depression, including frontline health care workers, during the COVID-19 outbreak. These Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) programs were developed in partnership with MindBeacon and Morneau Shepell and will be provided at no out-of-pocket costs to Ontarians across the province.

As part of the government's $12 million commitment to mental health during COVID-19, the emergency funding is helping mental health agencies hire and train more staff, purchase the necessary equipment and technology they need to help patients, and support the creation and enhancement of virtual and online supports for mental health services including:

  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Clients can self-refer to programs through the various service providers listed and be guided through their client journey to find the appropriate supports they need. Online iCBT is supported by therapists and available in English and French.
  • Supports for frontline health care workers: Online iCBT is available to frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or post-traumatic stress disorder. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care, as well as weekly online peer discussion groups and access to confidential support from a clinician.
  • Virtual mental health support services: These include BounceBack telephone coaching and workbooks, and Kids Help Phone for children and youth.

The province also established a Mental Health and Addictions COVID-19 Response Table, led by the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence at Ontario Health, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on access to public mental health and addictions services. Its members include representatives from across Ontario's mental health and addictions sector, who are working collaboratively to focus on maintaining services during the outbreak.

The Response Table is identifying concerns and implementing quick solutions, supporting virtual care strategies, sharing best practices, and connecting with other COVID-19 regional and provincial tables to ensure any issues impacting the province's mental health and addictions system are quickly resolved.

At Ontario.ca/coronavirus, people can find information about the different virtual mental health and wellness options that meet their unique needs, including online therapy. ONPHA also has resources available on its blog and on its COVID-19 resources page.