Free mental health help for Ontarians during COVID-19
If you’re an Ontario resident who’s feeling stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, suffering from insomnia or chronic pain, help is close at hand.
And it’s free during COVID-19. MindBeacon, a skills-building approach to therapy, helps you develop resiliency and coping skills to better manage mental health concerns. It consists of readings, exercises, and activities that will help you learn and practice those new skills all when it’s convenient for you.
It appears many could use the assistance. Consider the results of the third round of polling regarding the impact of COVID-19 by the Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association:
- Only 35 per cent of Ontarians consider their mental health to be “very good” or “excellent,” compared to 52 per cent in May.
- Nearly 80 per cent of respondents believe there will be a “serious mental health crisis” post-pandemic, compared to 66 per cent in August and 69 per cent in May.
- Thirty-six per cent of respondents reported high or very high stress levels, an increase from 30 per cent in the summer.
- Respondents reporting high or very high anxiety have also risen, to 35 per cent from 30 per cent in the summer.
- 57 per cent reported feeling lonelier since the pandemic began, with 47 per cent saying they wish they had someone to talk to.
The government announced a $20-million investment in 2020 to launch Mindability. This cognitive behavioural therapy aligns well with MindBeacon’s mission of making evidence-based mental health care accessible for all. The types of services available include Internet-based modules, personal workbooks, telephone coaching, and more. The agreement with the province runs until Dec 10, 2022.
Every year, more than one million Ontarians experience a mental health or addictions challenge, which can have a serious impact on their quality of life, including the ability to go to school or make a living.
"By improving the availability and quality of mental health and addictions support, and by better connecting Ontarians with these services, this new roadmap will help us build healthier communities by alleviating growing pressures on our hospitals and, in doing so, significantly support our goal of ending hallway health care," said Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot when announcing the plan.
MindBeacon’s Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program is personalized to your needs by a qualified therapist. It’s important to note, however, this is not a crisis service.It is designed for people 16 and up.
How it works
- Ontario residents can register here. To start, just type in your email. You will not be asked for payment. After creating your account, tell them about yourself, your feelings, and your situation, so the therapist can understand you better. The online assessment takes about 30 minutes and can be done when it’s convenient for you on any web-enabled device.
- A therapist, based on the information you provide, reviews your assessment in 3 to 5 business days. You are then matched with a therapist who best suits your needs. Through secure direct messages, readings, and activities, they will help you develop the skills you need to thrive. If the program is not appropriate for your needs, other resources will be suggested.
- You can complete the program in 6-12 weeks and you can access it when it’s convenient. You work one-on-one with your dedicated therapist for 12 weeks. They will respond to your messages and check in every few days.
Don’t feel ready for therapy? There are articles available for you to read anytime. Some examples include how to be social media healthy, anxiety about gathering with others again, stresses of parenting during a pandemic and more.
Sometimes the first step toward getting help is the hardest … but it’s comforting to know there’s help and additional resources when you’re ready.
RELATED READING: COVID-19 and mental health resources