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Ontario announces $12M investment in online mental health supports

Last Updated Apr 2, 2020 at 2:44 pm EDT

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions at Queen's Park in Toronto THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The province is investing $12M to expand virtual mental health support for Ontarians

The funds will go to various organizations to hire and train more staff and purchase more equipment

Virtual mental health supports have also been put in place for uniformed and civilian OPP members

Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that Ontario is investing $12 million to expand online mental health supports during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ford said the province recognizes that the effects of COVID-19 are taking a toll on the mental health of Ontarians and they want to help.

“The new reality is hard. What we’re seeing happening to our seniors in our long-term care homes, what we’re seeing happening to our neighbours, is hard to process, its hard to comprehend and it’s hard to deal with,” said Ford, adding that the feeling of being isolated is very real.

The province has partnered with organizations like Kids Help Phone and Bounce Back to provide online and phone mental health supports.

Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo said the $12 million infusion will help those and other mental health agencies with the resources necessary to hire and train more staff, buy more equipment and appropriate technology as well as with additional licenses. It will also help provide alternatives for those who cannot access their in-person mental health supports.

“The funding will help to immediately expand services in a wide range of platforms based on evidence-informed cognitive behavioural therapy,” said Tibollo.

In addition, the province announced additional support for active and retired Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) members with the launch of a new mental health wellness program on Monday.

The province is investing $2.6 million to hire additional psychologists and other mental health clinicians who will help both uniformed and civilian OPP members deal with the challenges of their jobs.

These new workers will also facilitate education programs in order to “reduce stigma and promote resiliency” and help them get the help they need when facing mental health challenges. They will also provide guidance in peer support programs.

“To every Ontarian who may be struggling at home, please access these services, reach out for help, nothing is more important to us than your continued well being,” said Minister of Health, Christine Elliott.