As Albertans continue to self-isolate in hopes of stopping the spread of COVID-19, new technology in the province is emphasizing the importance of accessing mental health resources amid the pandemic.
On April 3, Morneau Sheppell released the results of its new mental health index, which indicated a significant decrease in Canadians’ mental health compared to pre-COVID-19 benchmarks.
Now, several new apps and online software have been created to help Albertans focus in on their mental wellness, many of which are free to access for both the public and employers in the province.
One new service comes from the Alberta-based wellness tech startup, Hölmetrics. The company is offering its Cloud-based mental health software to organizations in the province for free.
“We had been queuing up the launch of our software for later this year, but when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, we knew we had to act,” Hölmetrics co-founder and CEO Chad Verity said in a news release on Wednesday.
“Our workplace communities need us more now than ever.”
The software uses real-time data to offer recommendations and mental health resources that employers can offer to their workers throughout the pandemic.
“Although our product’s standard pricing is intended to be accessible, we’re offering Hölmetrics for free because we understand we’re in times where extreme cost-cutting is a reality for many businesses,” he said.
“Taking care of a team’s mental health should not be neglected due to a price tag.”
On April 14, Owl Pod, a Calgary-based non-profit organization, announced it will be offering free mental health clinics online.
“Now, during COVID-19, people are anxious, stressed, lonely and depressed,” founder Dr. Norry Kaler said.
“They’re at home alone and aren’t able to communicate with other people. We really want them to know that we are here to listen to them, to talk to them and to help them through their mental health issues.”
The organization’s two clinics have closed their doors to the public due to the pandemic, but now its 15 physicians will be available seven days a week and up to 14 hours a day to speak with Albertans.
The 90-minute sessions can be assessed through the organization’s website.
A new workplace wellness app has also been made available to Albertans amid the pandemic. Headversity, a Calgary-based company, created the software that allows employers to support and track the mental health of their staff through five-minute daily resiliency micro lessons.
“It’s important for employers to realize that resiliency will help their staff learn how to adjust to a new normal,” CEO and registered psychiatrist Dr. Ryan Todd said.
“Our resilience platform blends the very best of today’s mental wellness education and data technology so that you can easily and effectively manage change. The client dashboards provide insight so leaders can better support their people and create a resilient workplace.”
On Wednesday, the provincial government also stressed the importance of mental health services amid the pandemic, announcing more than $53 million to implement more online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery supports in Alberta.
“We know people are struggling right now, and we want Albertans to know that help is there for them through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement on Wednesday.
Several other organizations in the province have moved their services online to help provide Albertans with the necessary supports, however, officials note that while these apps and services aim to help, anyone in immediate distress is urged to call the Mental Health Hotline at 1-877-303-2642.
A full list of AHS mental health services is available here.