Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto has partnered with community-based agencies that provide mental health and social services to support residents during this difficult time. The City has also remained committed to providing Torontonians with safe opportunities for recreation and prioritized access to the City’s parks and green spaces for fresh air and exercise.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, continued measures to slow the spread of the virus and protect the city’s most vulnerable residents have created stress and anxiety for many individuals. These mental health pressures are particularly severe for individuals who are faced with challenging circumstances such as social isolation, job loss and illness.
Mental health support
The City launched the mental health support strategy in April 2020 and partnered with key mental health service providers to support the wellbeing of Toronto residents. Partner agencies have reported that almost 88,500 people have either called, texted or sent an online message for support. Of that number, more than 80,300 people received direct mental health support and more than 8,000 people were referred directly to partners for additional support. Preliminary data also indicates that 40 per cent of contacts were seniors, and three per cent of people seeking mental health services were youth. To date, 211 has also reported a total of 42,708 mental health-related web searches regarding issues related to community mental health services, addiction treatment, youth mental health, crisis lines and in-person crisis services.
Toronto residents are reminded that they have access to free mental health services from the safety of their homes. Anyone experiencing anxiety or stress can call 211 to connect with one of 13 mental health service partners for direct phone support. Mental health service information is also available at http://www.211toronto.ca/,as well as through the City’s website at https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-protect-yourself-others/covid-19-mental-health-resources/.
Mental health services are available for specific populations, such as: children and youth; seniors; frontline workers; Indigenous, Black, persons with disabilities and LGBTQ2S. These specific service providers include:
- Across Boundaries
- Caribbean African Canadian Social Services
- Crisis Text Line
- Family Services Toronto
- Gerstein Crisis Centre
- Hong Fook
- Kids Help Phone
- Native Child and Family Services of Toronto
- Ontario Psychological Association
- Strides Toronto
- The Access Point
- Toronto Seniors Helpline (WoodGreen)
- Warm Line (Progress Place)
To help support frontline workers, specific mental health resources have been mobilized as part of the City’s Mental Health Support Strategy to support them. Frontline workers with minimal or no mental health coverage are encouraged to call 211, note that they are a frontline worker in need of mental health supports, and they will be connected to specialized counsellors free of charge.