Strengthening Mental Health and Wellness During COVID-19

Recognizing the heightened pressures being confronted by Ontario's healthcare workers and other critical support staff working in the province's hospitals, the OHA has compiled a number of mental health resources that healthcare workers can easily access, along with resources for leaders and organizations.

These are only some examples of available resources. Members can email additional suggestions to gotnews@oha.com.

Contents:

  • Ontario resources
    • This section includes resources for individuals offered by hospitals, mental health organizations and other agencies in Ontario. Most resources are free, offered and created by trained professionals and do not require a referral.
  • Canadian resources
    • This section includes resources offered by organizations and professional associations across Canada. Most resources are free, offered and created by trained professionals and do not require a referral.
  • International resources
    • This section includes resources from various leading international sources such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S., as well as other groups and organizations that have made an impact in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of individuals prior to and during the pandemic.
  • Resources for leaders and organizations
    • This section includes resources for leaders and organizations supporting health care workers' mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and during non-crisis times.

Ontario Resources 

AbilitiCBT

AbilitiCBT is an internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) program developed to address anxiety and depression related to the pandemic, as well as general anxiety and depression. Morneau Shepell has partnered with the Government of Ontario to provide the AlibitiCBT program for free to Ontarians aged 16 and over.

CAMH 

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health offers information and suggestions about how best to cope through the COVID-19 pandemic on theirCOVID-19 Resource Page. Coping tools related to stress and anxiety, loss, grief and healing, stigma and prejudice as well as quarantine and isolation are available.  

CAMH also developed ECHO Coping with COVID, designed for Hospital-Based Healthcare Providers and Residents responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants are invited to join ECHO sessions virtually through multi-point videoconference technology to share and learn about ways to build resilience and overall wellness through didactic lectures and case-based discussions.

CAMH also launched a hub that will house a growing list of evidence-based resources for health care workers and other front-line responders to manage their own mental health, and support their patients and families at this time. Visit the health care worker hub or visit www.camh.ca/covid19HCW. The site will be updated often as new resources are developed. 

A self-referral for mental health care for healthcare workers can be found here*. CAMH and five other Ontario hospitals are providing access to psychotherapy and psychiatric services for healthcare workers who are impacted by stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

CMHA National has created a COVID-19 mental health and well-being page with resources and suggestions to help support mental health throughout the pandemic.  

CMHA Ontario has created a social campaign called “15 minutes for your mental health” in English and French. This includes “booklets” that contain information and tips to help with burnout and mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social health.

CMHA Ontario has created a COVID-19 crisis resource guide. The guide lists resources and supports available to Ontarians. Resources include national and provincial mental health supports, COVID-19-specific resources and resources for online mental health and social connection. 

CMHA also developed Online Resources for Social Connection and Mental Wellness During COVID-19 which includes apps to help with increasing social connection, apps to help with mental wellness and more online resources for mental health and addictions help. It also includes tips for managing your mental health during COVID and for supporting a loved one.

Bounce Back Ontario is a free skill-building program managed by CMHA. It is designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Delivered over the phone with a coach and through online videos, it offers access to tools that will support individuals on the path to mental wellness. It was launched in Ontario in 2017 and is funded by the Ontario government. One of the resources offered is the COVID sheet: 10 things you can do right now to reduce anxiety, stress, worry related to COVID-19.

Ementalhealth.ca

Ementalhealth.ca  is a non-profit initiative of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) dedicated to improving the mental health of children, youth and families. It provides anonymous, confidential and trustworthy information, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Features include:  

  • Mental Health Help (i.e., directory of mental health services and organizations)   
  • Info Sheets: Information about a variety of mental health conditions and topics, including parenting during a pandemic, mental wellness and resiliency while coping with COVID-19, and more.
  • Screening Tools: Find out if you or a loved one has a mental health concern with our free, online screening tools. 
  • Events Calendar: Information about mental health events in your area.  
  • News Feed: Information about the latest mental health news.  
  • Research directory: Information about research studies in your area. 

Entité  

Entité 4 has created a list of French-language COVID-19 resources and support programs, such as free webinars, COVID-19 support lines, workshops for parents, etc.

Hospital Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO) 

HPCO has archived virtual sessions on emotional, spiritual and compassionate care regarding COVID-19. HPCO has also launched a new Stay Well Series to support health care workers, caregivers, individuals and families who could benefit from daily reflections and encouraging messages during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ontario Psychological Association

The Association shared a resource via social media specifically targeted at frontline providers during COVID-19. Developed by Dr. Mélanie Joanisse, the workbook is an easy-to-read written guide to wellness.

Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)  

The RNAO has created a page with psychological support resources for nurses and health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MindBeacon  

MindBeacon offers free mental health supports for Ontarians aged 16 and older. The Therapist Guided Program consists of readings, exercises and activities to help learn and practice resiliency and coping skills to better manage mental health concerns. It also includes customized support for health care workers.  

Mt. Sinai and University of Toronto (UofT)

Dr. Robert Maunder and Dr. Jonathan Hunter, psychiatrists at Mount Sinai Hospital and professors at UofT created a 7.5-minute youtube video on how to cope with COVID-19 for health care workers.

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, has partnered with Ontario Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence to provide assessment and referrals to health or community care workers from across the province. Learn more*.

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre"Your Health Matters"  

Sunnybrook has dedicated a page to COVID-19 resources and information from Sunnybrook experts. It includes brief articles as well as speaker series.  

The Royal

COVID Frontline Wellness* is a resource developed by The Royal to support healthcare workers with maintaining their mental wellbeing during COVID-19. The portal offers simple, fast access to supports and tools using an online form. Registrants will be contacted by a clinician to discuss their needs and connect them with appropriate supports. These may be services offered by The Royal or other community partners.

Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care

COVID Frontline Wellness* connects health care and frontline workers and first responders with supports and access to services to help them enhance resilience during these stressful times and help manage mental health challenges. This service is available by self-referral - simply complete the self-referral form at right and a clinician will contact you. This should only take about 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, call Waypoint's Central Intake at 705-549-3181, ext. 2308 or 1-877-341-4229, ext. 2308.

Ottawa Public Health

Ottawa Public Health offers a resource page on mental health, substance use and COVID-19. Resources are available in a variety of languages and for diverse groups (e.g., First Nations, Intuit and Metis, health care workers, parents, older adults, young adults, etc.) Resources to support workplace mental health are also available.


*Five hospitals in Ontario are partnering with the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence at Ontario Health to provide assessment and referrals to frontline health care workers from across the province. For more information on these different resources, please visit COVID-19: Get support if you are a health care worker.


Canadian Resources 

Alberta Health Services: Text4Hope 

Alberta Health Services created Text4Hope, a free, supportive text messaging service. Subscribers receive a daily text message of support and encouragement to ease the stress and anxiety they may be feeling. These texts might remind subscribes to focus on positive thinking or suggest actions to help them manage their mood.   

Canadian Medical Association (CMA) 

The CMA offers a physician health and wellness hub that includes wellness tools and resources for physicians, medical learners and leaders. It includes COVID-19 specific resources, a Wellness Support Line, and more.  

Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC)

The MHCC has a dedicated COVID-19 pandemic hub with articles and resources related to “at home”, “at work” and specific for healthcare and first respondersThe MHCC also developed a worksheet to create a self-care and resilience plan that is quick, and easy to use. It also includes mental health resources by province.     

Best Practices for Supporting the Mental Health of Healthcare Workers During Covid-19, is an interview with a wellness specialist at Michael Garron Hospital available on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s website.

Pause 4 Providers

A group of physicians have created an online open-access mindfulness program called "Pause 4 Providers" for health providers - in the context of the current stressful circumstances and challenges associated with working in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pause 4 Providers supports the mental health and wellbeing of healthcare providers during the pandemic by providing nightly 30-minute drop-in mindfulness sessions.

TakeCare19

This website is a compilation of accessible—mostly free or low-cost, and inclusive resources to help cope and support mental wellness through COVID-19 (and beyond). This project started out as a small crowd-sourced Google Doc that has since grown and been shared through various networks. It is now in its next evolution as a website to help create a better and easier way to search for more relevant resources, and to expand to other locations.

Togetherall

This is an online community where people support each other anonymously to improve mental health and wellbeing. Canadians may have free access through post-secondary institutions, employers or health care organizations.   

Wellness Together Canada

Wellness Together Canada provides free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. Includes live telephonic, video and text counselling, information and resources, online, self-directed tools for mindfulness and internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT), as well as peer support and group counselling. 

 

International Resources 

CDC - Emergency Responders: Tips for taking care of yourself 

This resource shares important tips and links to other supports for first responders who often face challenging situations on a daily basis, such as witnessing human suffering, risk of personal harm, intense workloads, life-and-death decisions, and separation from family. Stress prevention and management is critical for responders to stay well and to continue to help in the situation. The CDC offers steps responders should take before, during, and after an event that include identifying and understanding burnout and secondary traumatic stress, developing a buddy system, self-care techniques and more. Click here to access this resource. 

Mayo Clinic Program on Physician Well-Being

The mission of this program is to promote physician wellbeing through research, education and individual and organizational initiatives that optimize physician satisfaction and performance. The approach is multipronged and includes measuring well-being, investing in leadership development, bringing physicians together to discuss common issues, etc. The program website also includes publications related to physician burnout, resident and fellow burnout and medical student burnout.

National Academy of Medicine 

The National Academy of Medicine has collected a number of resources to support the health and well-being of clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes resources from global health organizations, US government agencies, associations and organizations, and peer-reviewed journals, textbooks and trade press.  

Oji Life Lab

The Oji Life Lab team came together around a shared aspiration: to unlock the best learning - from academia and beyond - to make a big difference in peoples' lives. While emotional intelligence is core to what they do, it is just the first Life Lab. They are building a complete family of Life Labs that address the universal skills that are the foundation for everything we do at work and in life, skills that are rarely discussed, let alone taught. A number of existing resources are included here.

Corona Care Toolkit: Download the free e-book, Coping with Corona, a hands-on guide that helps navigate the emotional challenges at work and at home. This resource page was developed with the help of co-founders of Oji Life Lab Mark Brackett, Ph.D., Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Robin Stern, Ph.D., Associate Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Oji Emotion Life Lab is a mobile-based learning program that helps improve emotional intelligence at work and at home. Developed with the co-founders who lead the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, the Emotion Life Lab includes 50 bite-sized multimedia learning steps combined with live video coaching sessions delivered right on your phone. Learn more about Everyday Mindfulness Micro-Practices and Developing Your Emotional Intelligence: Recognition and Regulation Strategies.

Stanford - WellMD & WellPhD Center

Standford Medicine offers a knowledge hub that houses the latest research, learning opportunities and resources related to physician wellbeing.

The Pandemic Kindness Movement

The Pandemic Kindness Movement was created by clinicians across Australia who are working together to support all health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have curated respected, evidence-informed resources and links to valuable services to support the wellbeing of the health workforce.

WHO- Mental Health Considerations During COVID-19 

The World Health Organization provides guidance and advice to support the mental and psychological well-being of the general population, health care workers, team leaders or managers in health facilities, caretakers of children, caretakers of older adults, people in isolation. Access the Mental Health & Covid-19 page. 

"Basic Psychosocial Skills: A Guide to COVID-19 Responders" offers those responding to COVID-19 information on how to integrate psychosocial skills into their work in order to improve the well-being of people they are supporting during the pandemic. The guide is intended for health and social workers, emergency responders; people working in food stores, public transport, funeral parlours and pharmacies; employers and managers; and people who are providing support to vulnerable family members or members of their community.


Resources for Leaders and Organizations

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

CMHA Ontario, Mental Health Works and Bounce Back Ontario have created Return to the workplace: A psychological toolkit for heading back to work. It is a guide to support the mental health of individuals as they plan safe transitions back into their workplaces and to help employers as they develop policies and procedures for supporting staff returning to the workplace.

Caring for Healthcare Workers - A resource for Canadian healthcare organizations to assess and promote workplace psychological health and safety

Based on the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety, this resource offers a survey tool to assess the psychological health and safety of health care workers as well as an organizational audit tool to support the development of an organizational strategy for the psychological health and safety of staff. This resource was developed in partnership with By Health, For Health Collaborative (the Collaborative), the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and HealthcareCAN.

Evidence Synthesis Network: COVID-19 Collaboration in Practice

This MAy 2021 briefing note summarizes best practices in hospitals and other health care settings to mitigate health care worker burnout, fatigue, and moral injury and/or grief following a period of intense professional commitment. It was written by the Research, Analysis and Evaluation Branch of Ontario's Ministry of Health, along with members of the COVID-19 Evidence Synthesis Network.

Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

IHI has a number of COVID-19 specific guidance and resources for health system leaders and health care providers, including: 

These COVID-19 specific guidance and resources align with IHI's Framework for Improving Joy in Work.

IHI has also launched an Open School course called, Mental health and Well-being During and After COVID-19. This free course offers practical ways for health care workers to promote their own well-being and for leaders to support staff, particularly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and the Canadian Centre of Excellence – PTSD (2020) Moral Stress Amongst Healthcare Workers During COVID-19: A Guide to Moral Injury

This guide begins with an explanation of the concept of moral injury in the healthcare context. It summarizes research on the range of moral stressors and associated harms reported around the world, during the COVID-19 pandemic and it offers a framework for the management of potentially morally injurious events from an organizational, team and individual level perspective.

The British Psychological Society

The BPS published The psychological needs of healthcare staff as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic,  a guide for leaders and managers of healthcare services who will need to consider the wellbeing needs of all healthcare staff (clinical and non-clinical) as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. It offers practical recommendations for how to respond at individual, management and organisational level involving the appropriate utilisation of expertise within their practitioner psychologist and mental health professionals and anticipates the psychological reactions over time, and what people may need to recovery psychologically from this.

The COVID Trauma Response Working Group (NHS)

The COVID Trauma Response Working Group, made of trauma specialists, wellbeing leads at NHS Trusts and people with lived experience of psychological trauma, was formed to help coordinate trauma-informed responses to the COVID outbreak across the NHS. This group offers clinical guidelines, guidance for planners and organizations, and advice for health and social care staff coping with stress.

Guidance for planners and organizations include the following: