On this third National Day of Observance for COVID-19, CMHA Ontario is reflecting on the lives lost and impacted by the pandemic, and reminding our community that mental health and addictions resources are available for those who continue to be affected by grief, loss, isolation, loneliness and other challenges brought about by COVID-19.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Three years on, the lasting effects of the pandemic on the mental health of Ontarians have been significant.
Requests for mental health support have increased nearly 50 per cent for adults, and more than 100 per cent for children and youth.
Services such as supportive housing, crisis response, case management, early psychosis intervention and assertive community treatment teams are experiencing higher service volumes.
Additionally, the opioid crisis continues to worsen. The latest provincial data from 2021 shows, on average, there were 19.7 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people.
As demand for services increases, community-based agencies such as CMHAs are seeing unprecedented levels of staff shortages and burnout.
The combined pressures of increased service demand and staff retention are at the forefront of CMHA Ontario’s 2023 pre-budget submission to the province. These issues – exacerbated by COVID-19 – have underscored a dire need for an immediate base budget increase as well as a commitment to sustainable and ongoing annualized funding.
Meantime, to support health care workers experiencing burnout, CMHA Ontario launched a free workplace mental health service for Ontario’s health care organizations called Your Health Space. This program aims to assist organizations in supporting leaders, health care workers and support staff working in hospitals, long-term care, as well as home and community settings. Through interactive live workshops, and/or self-directed modules, Your Health Space offers effective strategies to address chronic workplace stress and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace. Learn more at www.yourhealthspace.ca.