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COVID Blog #13: How BC and Canada are Supporting Mental Wellness Using Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the biggest health crises the world has ever faced. Not only is the virus affecting millions around the world physically, but it is also affecting people mentally.

Danielle Whalen, the director of clinical services with Atlantic Wellness, spoke with Global News back on April 3rd on how COVID-19 is affecting Canadians mental health. “I think it’s the uncertainty for one, of when will this end and when will we know when we can go back to our regular everyday schedules and lifestyles,” said Whalen.

In Canada alone, 24% out of approximately 46,000 Canadians reported fair or poor mental health to Statistics Canada in a crowdsourcing initiative between April 24th to May 11th of this year.This percentage is a big jump compared to previously published data from the 2018 Canadian Community Health Survey, where they found only 8% of Canadians reported fair or poor mental health.

Even now, despite many provinces slowly issuing reopening plans, the pandemic is still causing many Canadians to suffer from poor mental health and it is affecting everyone differently. Many Canadian tech companies and governments, however, are banding together to provide practical resources to help Canadians struggling during these unprecedented times.

Mobile Apps

Founded in Alberta, Canada, drivethru is a guided journaling app that provides tools to help a person self-reflect and take control of their mental well-being. This is a good resource for anyone who may not feel comfortable yet to speak with someone regarding their struggles. This app is also useful specifically for front line workers who may not have the time to speak with someone. The app is currently free during COVID-19.

Vancouver-based digital health company Curatio has created Stronger Together, another free mobile app that helps connect people to the support they may need using “intelligent matchmaking”. A user simply has to fill out their information and what medical needs they are requiring and the app then matches them with the most appropriate resource(s). It is a great tool to use if you are unsure of where or who to go to for help.

Websites

For BC residents, there is a program called Bounce Back that helps people aged 15 and up who are experiencing mild to moderate depression or anxiety. It is a free virtual health skill-building program that uses cognitive therapy to promote healthy behaviours and positive coping methods. During COVID, the program is accessible without needing a doctor’s reference and the BC government has committed to spending $5 million to expand this and other virtual mental health programs in the province.

Betakit, an online news outlet specifically covering Canadian start-ups and technology, has released a list of Canadian tech companies that have created various programs to help Canadians during the pandemic. While the list does not specifically focus on mental health entirely, the resources listed range from a variety of topics including COVID-19 screenings, grocery assistance, and unemployment assistance. They update the list every Friday so the post is always up-to-date with the best resources.

The Canadian government’s provincial and federal websites list mental resources you can access, such as links to programs or websites, phone lines, and general information. The Canadian federal government website also includes direct links to each of the provinces and territories websites. Specifically on the BC provincial government website, resources are broken down further for different demographics, including front line workers, seniors, and youth.

The Canadian Red Cross offers psychological first-aid courses that are for either self-care or caring for others. Most of these classes are offered online but some locations do offer in-person classes. These courses, along with other first-aid courses that The Canadian Red Cross offer, are a great investment starting at just $20.

If you know of any other mental wellness resources that we have not mentioned in our post, please add them to the comments below.

Jul 24, 2020
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