“Sixty-five per cent of the 3,000 survey participants reported adverse mental health impacts related to COVID-19 in May, yet only two per cent reported accessing online mental health resources such as apps, websites, digital tools or other supports not involving direct contact with a mental health care provider.

‘Even among people who were experiencing mental distress of various types, and in groups who would likely benefit from these resources, the uptake was quite low,’ said lead researcher Emily Jenkins, a professor of nursing at UBC. ‘These programs are ideally positioned for the types of difficult experiences and emotions that we’re seeing during the pandemic. They are well suited for people who are having trouble coping and need some support to manage their mental health. They’re also easily accessed, and many are available in different languages.’

Among the online mental health resources available free to Canadians are:

  • CMHA’s BounceBack, currently available in B.C., Manitoba and Ontario and expanding to the rest of the country soon through a gift from Bell Let’s Talk
  • Wellness Together Canada, a federally funded program
  • WellCan, a resource developed and funded by corporate, community and public sector partners
  • Ontarians also have free access to the for-profit cognitive behavioural therapy program MindBeacon during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jenkins and Richardson are conducting further research to understand why use of these resources is so low, but early indications are that a lack of awareness is a major contributing factor. ‘We see a lot of messaging out there about physical distancing, face masks and hand washing. We really need to get more messages out to people about how they can support their mental health in a positive way as well,’ said Richardson.”

Learn more here on Online supports for COVID-19 stress are there—but Canadians aren’t accessing them via UBC Faculty of Medicine.

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