The pressure, stress, anxiety, and exhaustion experienced by pharmacy professionals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. However, pharmacy staff have demonstrated tremendous strength and resiliency by maintaining their commitment to care for their patients amidst these daily challenges.
Nevertheless, in addition to caring for patients, pharmacy professionals are reminded that promoting and maintaining their own mental health is equally as important. The Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA) encourages all pharmacy professionals to remember that even the most courageous among us need help sometimes.
Below are some mental health resources that support healthcare professionals and/or provide specific mental health assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Take care of yourself by exploring the following collection of resources and services available to promote wellness, prevent burnout and support your mental health during these difficult times. (Please note that OPA is not affiliated with and does not endorse the organizations or services/resources presented below; this information is shared for member interest only and members are encouraged to use other services or resources that are appropriate and available to them.)
AbilitiCBT is an internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program that is accessible any time and includes a special program designed specifically to address uniquely challenging aspects related to the pandemic such as uncertainty, isolation, caring for family and community members, information overload and stress management. Through a partnership with the Government of Ontario, AbilitiCBT is a free program offered to Ontario residents 16 years of age or older.
The Canadian Mental Health Association has collected resources and recommendations to help support mental health during COVID-19 including local services and supports, self-care strategies, information about caring for others, workplace mental health and more.
In addition, managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, BounceBack is a free guided skill-building self-help program for individuals experiencing low mood, stress, worry, irritability, anger or mild-to-moderate anxiety/depression. The program includes over the phone coaching, online videos and workbooks designed for people 15 years of age or older. BounceBack has also produced a COVID-19 Tip Sheet of strategies to reduce anxiety, stress and worry related to the pandemic.
For additional resources, please also consult the list compiled by the Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The Canadian Psychological Association has compiled a list of registered psychology practitioners who are willing to donate their time to provide services to assist frontline healthcare providers who are stressed, overwhelmed or distressed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The listed psychologists have agreed to return calls for requests for services within 24 hours of their receipt and to provide services at no charge. Through this program, participating psychologists in Ontario are available via phone or email in the following languages: English, Hindi, Urdu, Russian, Italian, French, Hebrew, Farsi, Turkish, Romanian, Spanish, and Punjabi. In addition, the Canadian Psychological Association also has developed “Psychology Works” Fact Sheets which provide reputable information on a variety of topics including COVID-19.
CAMH offers an abundance of comprehensive resources for dealing with mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic, including advice and strategies related to the following topics:
- Coping with COVID-19
- Stress and anxiety
- Loss, grief and healing
- Stigma and prejudice
- Quarantine and isolation
In addition, CAMH has also developed many resources dedicated specifically to healthcare workers including self-care tools, virtual care, professional support groups and others. Related to this initiative, ECHO Coping with COVID is an entire program designed for healthcare providers and health professional students responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, which offers virtual sessions to share and learn about ways to build resilience and overall wellness through didactic lectures and case-based discussions. Furthermore, healthcare workers negatively impacted by COVID-19 can self-refer themselves via this online form to access CAMH’s mental health and addiction supports such as resources, Cognitive Behavioural Therapies (CBT/Psychotherapy) and psychiatric services.
ConnexOntario provides confidential health service referrals and information on mental health, addiction and problem gambling services. The service is free of charge and is accessible 24/7 via phone, chat or email. In addition, the mindyourmind program offers a variety of interactive and innovative technological tools and resources to build capacity and resilience for young adults between the ages of 14 to 29.
eMentalHealth.ca provides anonymous, confidential and trustworthy information that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It includes a directory to mental health services and organizations by area, information sheets (e.g., Mental Wellness and Resiliency while Coping with COVID), screening tools, and more. A resource list is also available of free/publicly funded services that are primarily for health care professionals.
MindBeacon’s Therapist Guided Program is a free mental health support that uses a skills-building approach based on CBT to help manage stress, anxiety, depression and more. It is designed for people 16 years of age or older and offers customized support for frontline healthcare workers.
The Ontario Pharmacy Health Program is a voluntary program designed to support pharmacy professionals registered with the Ontario College of Pharmacists and their families with substance use and/or mental health disorders. The program, provided by Lifemark Health, monitors registrants’ recovery to support them to practice safely and/or return to practice, and aims to lower emotional, social and economic costs associated with psychiatric disorders, substance use and/or emotional disorders. Registrants in the program can receive case management assistance, information and self-referral options, industry-leading assessment, treatment and disability management services and assistance with staying at work and/or return to work. For more details, please consult this brochure.
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences offers a service dedicated to assisting healthcare workers experiencing anxiety and depression. It is designed to assess the needs of the healthcare worker and offer them rapid access to services such as assistance with system navigation, crisis planning, psychoeducation, brief individual therapy, primary care phone consultation guidance and referrals. The service is available by self-referral or referrals from other health professionals through their Central Intake department at 1-877-767-9642 or through their online centralized referral form.
St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH) offers confidential support for healthcare workers impacted by COVID-19 related stress through quick access to a trained mental health clinician from SJHH. Healthcare workers can share their fears, concerns, and struggles, receive support, engage in problem-solving, and receive help connecting to other resources or services if needed. Individuals can reach out by calling St. Joe’s Connect at 905-522-1155, extension 36499 during business hours or by completing the referral form on their website. A member of the clinical team will follow-up within 24 hours of the request.
The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre provides confidential mental health supports and tools for healthcare workers impacted by stress related to COVID-19. Individuals who need a clinician to assess their needs and connect them with supports for their wellbeing can complete one of the referral forms depending on their place of practice (for individuals who work in a hospital, long-term care facility, retirement or group home, dental office or a paramedic service OR for individuals who work in a community setting) or contact the Centre at 1-877-527-8207. Services are available throughout Ontario in both English and French from a variety of partners. A list of online resources is also available which includes self-help tools, videos, online community of practice and peer supports, and more.
The Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care has a new service for healthcare/frontline workers called COVID Frontline Wellness which connects healthcare workers with support and access to services to help manage mental health challenges. This service is accessible via self-referral or you may call Waypoint’s Central Intake at 705-549-3181 or 1-877-341-4729, ext. 2308.