In conjunction with Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association and partners hosted information sessions in Toronto and Ottawa to raise awareness in the health care community of three free structured psychotherapy services available in the province.
The sessions, hosted at CMHA’s Routes Community Centre in Toronto and the RA Centre in Ottawa, provided community members with information on three free programs that can help individuals manage symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety and depression, including CMHA’s BounceBack, Ontario Telemedicine Network’s Big White Wall, and Mental Health Partners’ Increasing Access to Structured Psychotherapy (IASP).
BounceBack is CMHA’s free self-help program grounded in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that uses telephone coaching, skill-building workbooks and online videos to help Ontarians aged 15 and up battling mild to moderate anxiety or depression gain new skills to manage their symptoms and regain positive mental health. To receive telephone coaching, clients must be referred, either by a health care provider (family doctor, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist) or self referral, so long as they’re connected with a primary care provider. BounceBack coaches are extensively trained in the delivery of the program and are overseen by clinical psychologists. The BounceBack Today online videos are also free, open to anyone and don’t require a referral. The videos offer tips on managing mood, sleeping better, building confidence, increasing activity, problem solving and healthy living. They’re available in English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Arabic and Farsi and can be viewed at bouncebackvideo.ca (access code: bbtodayon).
Big White Wall is an online peer support and self-management tool for adults and youth aged 16 and up experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Co-ordinated by OTN, it’s free for people living in Ontario. Clients can self-refer or be referred by their primary care provider. Big White Wall is available around the clock, which means clients can access it immediately and at times when other services may be unavailable. Clients can talk anonymously with other members of the community feeling the same way they are. Big White Wall is staffed by trained ‘wall guides’ who ensure the community is safe, supportive and anonymous. Clients may also access online guided courses they can take with peers in the community on a variety of topics, including depression, anxiety, weight management and smoking cessation. For those who express themselves through art therapy, clients can also display their feelings with images, drawings and words to make bricks that are posted to the Wall.
IASP offers short-term, face-to-face CBT for adults aged 18 and up experiencing depressive and anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. It gives people living in Ontario free access to CBT through individual or group counselling sessions in person or via telemedicine. The program is available through Ontario’s four specialty mental health and addictions hospitals (Mental Health Partners): the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. The program is delivered in collaboration with community-based providers, including primary care providers (e.g. family health teams, community health centres, nurse practitioner-led clinics), community mental health agencies, family service organizations, and post-secondary institutions. It’s available by referral through a primary care provider, other regulated health professional or case worker.
The Toronto session, held Thursday, May 9, was hosted in partnership by CMHA Toronto, OTN and CAMH, while the Ottawa event, held Tuesday, May 7, was hosted in partnership by CMHA Ottawa, CMHA Champlain East, OTN and The Royal.