Fighting COVID-19's mental health impacts with online education: CAMH takes the lead

Annual Report 2019-20

CAMH's innovative digital mental health resources are guiding people to the help they need during the pandemic.

Spring 2020 was a whirlwind time for Canadians. The COVID-19 pandemic went from a concerning story on the news to a threat that was right outside our doorsteps with alarming speed. Our lives were transformed in a matter of weeks. Canadians were left looking for guidance, not only about the virus itself, but about how to cope with the ways it had changed our lives.

For the clinicians at CAMH, it quickly became clear that the pandemic had major mental health implications. From the anxiety of living in fear of illness, to the loneliness imposed by quarantine and isolation, Canadians were experiencing a variety of pressures that could exacerbate existing mental health problems or cause new ones. To navigate these challenges, help would be needed, and it would need to be quick and easy to access. The solution? An online hub that would provide Canadians with education and resources.

“It very quickly became apparent that the pandemic situation had some very substantial mental health implications,” says Dr. Sean Kidd. “We worked in those first weeks to develop an effective platform for sharing information and to identify key topics and populations for whom we could develop focussed resources.”

Working closly with Dr. Peter Selby and Dr. Rosa Dragonetti, Dr. Kidd and his colleagues reached out to topic experts. The team was happy to find them ready and willing to help. “It was amazing to see how responsive people were despite the many pressures that they themselves faced – rapidly developing guidance where it was needed most.”

The website has a variety of resources for Canadians. It includes a discussion forum where people can share their experiences and get tips and suggestions about coping with anxiety and depression during the pandemic. A National Survey Dashboard tracks the mental health of Canadians and reports keys statistics about their experiences and feelings. The site also provides resources for healthcare workers, those coping with a lose, and information on combating discrimination that has arisen as a result of the pandemic.

In the months since they became available, the online resources have been accessed by thousands of people, providing high-quality guidance for individuals and families at a critical time. Dr. Kidd is proud of the work that he’s been a part of, and of the unity and dedication displayed by his colleagues.

“It was great to see how effectively the CAMH community came together in an emergency situation to develop high quality tools and resources in such a short time. The experience made me proud to be a part of this organization.”

You can access CAMH’s COVID-19 resources on the CAMH website, or via their app, available on the Apple App Store an Google Play.