2020 Emergency Community Support Fund Round 2 Grant recipient.

By now, we’re all familiar with the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our mental wellness.

A recent survey conducted by Canadian Mental Health Association and the University of British Columbia found alarming levels of despair and hopelessness during the second wave of the pandemic. Forty percent of respondents to the survey reported a deterioration in their mental health since the pandemic began. The number of Canadians experiencing suicidal thoughts has quadrupled since pre-pandemic days. Among the hardest hit are people with existing mental health conditions, those living with a disability, members of the LGBTQ+ community, parents of children under 18, and Indigenous peoples.

When the pandemic began in 2020, CMHA Peel Dufferin, like many community service providers, was forced to close its doors. But, instead of putting services on hold CMHA Peel Dufferin responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing our hours, increasing the number of staff answering calls to our intake line, and transitioning services and programs to remote delivery.

Most clients are now receiving treatment over the phone or internet using privacy-compliant technology. This includes one-on-one secure video calls with social workers and counselors, and participation in virtual support groups.

Client feedback on the new model of care has been very positive. However, remote service delivery requires access to technology that some clients living in poverty simply can’t afford. In response, CMHA Peel Dufferin received a donation of 100 cell phones and monthly plans from TELUS Connecting for Good in April 2020. Within weeks all 100 phones had been distributed to clients in need. However, intake calls remain approximately 37% higher than this time last year and, based on projections, more phones will be required over the next few months.

To fill the gap, CMHA Peel Dufferin arranged for the donation of 14 additional phones from TELUS and a reduced rate monthly plan. These 14 phones are specifically allocated to clients in Dufferin County, as the rural nature of the population presents additional barriers to service, including poor internet connection and distance from in person care sites.

Thanks to the Dufferin Community Foundation and the Emergency Community Support Fund, we’re continuing to provide free mental health care for our community’s most vulnerable.

If you’re concerned about your own mental health or that of a loved one, please call us toll free at 1-877-451-2123. Mental Health Counsellors are available Monday to Friday between 8am and 8pm to answer questions, provide referrals and conduct assessments over the phone.

In a crisis, please call 1-888-811-2222 for immediate access to support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.