Statement from CMHA Ontario April 2, 2020
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) network consists of nearly 30 branches across the province that provide community-based clinical and social services to Ontarians living with mental health and addictions issues. Like every other health provider, we have spent the past few weeks adjusting to a new reality created by COVID-19 and are continually examining and altering our service delivery in the wake of ongoing developments associated with this pandemic. We are following the advice of local, provincial and federal health authorities as we aim to strike a balance between abundant caution to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and providing appropriate support for the individuals we serve.
For clients and their families, CMHAs across Ontario are an essential part of the health care system and are still here to provide help but you may experience changes to the services you’re receiving. For example, many programs have moved to virtual platforms or are now delivered via the phone while other services may have been temporarily postponed. We ask for your patience as we provide alternative service delivery and work to provide essential mental health and addictions services that support our most vulnerable, high-risk clients and those in immediate crisis. We will continue to monitor all the developments of COVID-19 and hope to return to regular service levels as soon as possible.
For the general public who typically do not interact with CMHA branches, we ask that you take a moment to consider your own mental health during these challenging times. Social distancing, self-quarantining and isolation in order to protect public health and safety is a new norm. These new circumstances may lead to heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression for many people.
Take time to practice self-care, absorb news only from reliable sources and connect – over the phone or virtually – with friends and family to help you gain a sense of calm and balance amid the turmoil. If you find that you’re struggling more than usual, we encourage you to try BounceBack (https://bouncebackontario.ca/), a free skill-building program managed by CMHA designed to help adults and youth over 15 manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Or, you can always reach out to a CMHA in your community. Find your branch on CMHA Ontario’s website (https://ontario.cmha.ca/).
As this ongoing crisis unfolds, we encourage our provincial government to consider the vital role that community mental health and addictions plays in the broader health care sector. Our work will keep people out of the hospital emergency department, away from the justice system and on the job or happy at home. As the government has stated, mental health and addictions care should be on the same footing as physical health care in all respects. Therefore, any operational or capital investment to help the broader health sector manage in the fallout of COVID-19 must include dedicated and appropriate funds or resources for mental health and addictions care. This is a message that our provincial body, CMHA Ontario, together with Addictions and Mental Health Ontario and Children’s Mental Health Ontario continues to deliver at Queen’s Park.
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the nearly 4,000 dedicated staff and volunteers at CMHAs across the province. As the backbone to CMHAs in Ontario, our staff and volunteers have exhibited poise, flexibility and incredible willingness to put client needs ahead of themselves. Many of our employees are practicing social distancing and working from home while trying to support service users who are struggling to cope. Their contribution is immeasurable. On behalf of all CMHA branches and CMHA Ontario, we thank our staff and volunteers for their commitment to mental health and addictions care during this difficult time.
For more information, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
416-977-5580 ext. 4141
CMHA Simcoe County alters services to protect public health and safety amid COVID-19 pandemic
The offices of CMHA Simcoe County Branch is suspending face-to-face contact, effective immediately.
Posted on March 17, 2020
RE: COVID 19 Directive
As recommended by Public Health, the CMHA Simcoe County Branch, after a consultation with the Board, has decided to close our sites to clients, families and the public as of today.
Balancing concerns about the impact on those people who need our services the most, and the high priority on the health and safety of our clients/families, staff/volunteers and community citizens, and with abundant precautions against COVID-19 spread, we will be moving to services provided through email, phone and OTN/virtual options.
Like all Ontarians, we are following advice from local, provincial and national health authorities to help stop the spread of this disease. CMHA Simcoe County more specifically is making the following service changes, effective immediately until further notice, to protect our clients and staff:
o CMHA Simcoe County Branch has suspended all Face to Face service provisions, exceptions may fall under provisions provided by essential services such as the Assertive Community Treatment Teams and Early Psychosis Intervention.
o All Non-Face to Face service provisions will either done by secured email, voice, text, and or ONT/Virtual option.
We are doing everything possible at this time to keep safe options available to support individuals in need of care. We will continue to monitor all the developments of COVID-19 and will continue to inform our clients and the community of further changes to our programs and services.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call Lynne Cheliak, Director of Community Mental Health and Addiction or email Lynne Cheliak at firstname.lastname@example.org
Health & Safety actions recommended by the Ministry of Health
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeve
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Avoid contact with people who are sick
- Avoid groups of more than 5 people
- Stay home if you can and in particular do not visit long-term care, retirement home or other congregate living situation
Reducing anxiety related to COVID-19
CMHA Simcoe County recognizes that at this time of uncertainty, symptoms of anxiety and depression may be exacerbated. These five basic tips may help individuals experiencing heightened mental health concerns to remain calm and balanced as this public health situation unfolds.
- Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.
- Self-care is critically important at this time, as worries can be made worse if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Lean on social supports, try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage in enjoyable activities. Do the things you would typically do to support your health, and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them.
- Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.
- Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.
- If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, reach out for formal mental health supports from a recognized agency, such as CMHA.