City of Toronto continues working with community-based agencies to provide mental health support to vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Toronto wants all residents to know that it is OK to not be OK and ask for mental health support.

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/.

  • 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.

Staying active is another way people can contribute to maintaining their mental health and wellbeing. The City and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health continue to encourage people to safely get fresh air and exercise outdoors. People can stay active this winter with members of their household at:

The City has also more than doubled its supply of winter park washrooms from 64 to 143 as part of its ongoing response to COVID-19.

Participants should plan ahead as online reservations are encouraged for skating at the City’s outdoor rinks: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/recreation-reservations/. A small number of spots will be reserved for people who are not able to make a reservation online. Starting next week, people can make reservations beginning at 8 a.m. each day and up to seven days in advance of their preferred skate time. To make a reservation, people are required to register with eFun at https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/how-to-register-for-recreation-programs/ and obtain a client and family PIN number by calling 416-396-7378. Call centre hours have been expanded and lines are now open Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. As ice-making and maintenance is weather-dependent, people should check rink status online before heading out to skate: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/recreation/recreation-service-alerts/.

More information on winter activities is available at http://www.toronto.ca/welcometowinter.

Quotes:

“As this pandemic continues to impact our day-to-day lives and prevents us from spending time with our extended family and friends, we need to be aware of the toll that this brings to our mental wellbeing. I want to remind all Toronto residents that they don't have to suffer in silence. While we have to stay apart right now to stop the spread of COVID-19, you are not alone. The City has worked with key mental health service providers to make sure help is there for those who need it and reach out to 211. The numbers show that Toronto residents have reached out in large numbers to these services that we have partnered with since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage anyone who feels lonely, isolated, anxious or depressed or who knows someone who is struggling during this pandemic to reach for help. It's free, it's safe and it's available for all who need it."

- Mayor John Tory

“We know that this pandemic is taking a toll on everyone. Ensuring that residents have access to mental health resources is especially important right now. Staff have done a fantastic job making the right connections with community agencies to provide support to a variety of population groups. And our partnership with 211 makes it easy for residents to access free mental health support. In encourage anyone who is struggling during this pandemic to reach out for help.”

- Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, Scarborough Centre, Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee

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