Coronavirus: Ontario government expands virtual mental health services

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Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario announces expanded virtual mental health supports
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo announced on Tuesday the government was rolling out expanded access to virtual and online mental health support this week. Ford said the supports will also be available for front line workers “whenever they need it.” – May 5, 2020

The Ontario government says it has expanded virtual mental health service to help those suffering throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement alongside Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Michael Tibollo, associate minister of mental health and addictions.

The expansion is a part of the $12 million the provincial government previously announced toward mental health services.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario invests $12M into mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic

“Even though this virus has taken a heavy toll on our everyday lives, we are doing everything we can to keep people healthy, physically and mentally,” said Ford.

“By expanding access to free virtual and online mental health supports, I want those who are struggling to know that we are here to support and help you cope with the stress, isolation and anxiety during these extraordinary times.”

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The funding will include internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy, support for frontline health care workers and virutal mental health support services.

READ MORE: Canada to invest $240M in online health care amid coronavirus, Trudeau says

“In order to help stop the spread of this deadly virus our frontline workers are working long hours in stressful situations and people across the province are doing their part by staying home, in many cases alone,” said Elliott. “We know these actions are not easy and can cause stress, anxiety and other mental health issues.”

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The Ontario government also said it was creating a Mental Health and Addictions COVID-19 Response Table, which will be led by the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence at Ontario Health.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto sees an increase in calls to mental health support systems'
Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto sees an increase in calls to mental health support systems

The table will identify concerns, implement solutions, support virtual care strategies, sharing best practices and connecting to other regional and provincial tables to make sure any issues affecting Ontarians’ mental health are helped.

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“Ontario’s mental health and addictions organizations are working around-the-clock to ensure individuals and families have access to the critical mental health and addictions supports they need,” said Tibollo.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Ontario reported 18,310 coronavirus cases and 1,361 deaths.

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