Many Canadians are not making use of virtual resources that could help them cope with the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest analysis of a national survey led by researchers at UBC.
The analysis was done in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA
Sixty-five per cent of the 3,000 survey participants reported adverse mental health impacts related to COVID-19 in May.
However, 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. “
The programs 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.
Some people did make more use of online mental health resources than others, but the numbers remained low across the board.
One in 10 respondents who reported self-harming used the the resources, with similar rates among those who reported coping “not well at all” with pandemic-related stress.
Among those who experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings, eight per cent said they had used these supports, while seven per cent of respondents who reported “significantly worse” mental health during the pandemic said they had.
Notably, among the 42 participants who reported that nothing had helped them cope with stress related to COVID-19, none reported having accessed online mental health resources.
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