This article originally appeared in a special report from The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.
It has been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in Canada. There is no question that the past months have challenged us as individuals and as a community. Here at The Royal, they have also brought out the best in us.
Building on 10 years of experience in telemedicine, we have leveraged technology to provide virtual services wherever possible and stay connected to clients and their families while working hard to keep the individuals receiving care in our hospitals safe as they progress on their roads to recovery.
More than 80 per cent of our outpatient appointments currently take place virtually, as do our client and family support groups and community education programs such as our Is It Just Me youth mental health program.
We have also acted quickly during the pandemic to provide urgent mental health care while other services in our region were closed or scaled back. During 17 weeks of operation, our temporary C-Prompt clinic served more than 540 individuals. For many it was the first time they received specialized care for symptoms of depression and anxiety.We offered accessible mental health treatment in close collaboration with primary care providers. This clinic exemplified the type of responsiveness and collaboration that we aspire to at The Royal.
The pandemic has exposed and intensified the need for better access to mental health and addictions care. We have seen this in our clinical work and through our research. We are actively working on new initiatives to support that need. We are building our future guided by insight and feedback from clients, families and partner organizations across our community. Through collaboration and innovation we will be the best we can be, fostering hope and delivering care to those impacted by mental illness.
President and CEO
Spotlight on stigma
For individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, let us keep in mind that they not only face isolation and loneliness, but also the shadow of stigma that surrounds them. And this is impacting their mental health.
For decades, we have fought hard to lift the veil of stigma that has prevented so many people from seeking help. Let’s try to understand and help each other during these trying times in our world.
Rather than judge each other, let us look out for one another. Whether you are saying it from behind a mask, over the phone, on video or typing it, the message is the same: “I’m here for you. It’s OK not to be OK.”