Kitchener-Waterloo

Local healthcare workers to get quick access to counselling, psychiatry through CMHA website

The Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo-Wellington has launched an online mental health resource aimed at healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resources available for doctors, nurses, hospital cleaning staff and others battling pandemic

Nurses, hospital cleaning staff and other local healthcare workers can get referrals for counselling and other mental health services through the website Here4Healthcare.ca. (Submitted by Alison De Muy)

Healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 crisis locally can now get quick, online referrals for counselling and other mental health supports through the website Here4Healthcare.ca. 

The website is a new initiative from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for Waterloo-Wellington. 

By filling out an online referral form, healthcare workers can expect to hear back from a counsellor or other mental health professional within about 24 hours, according to Helen Fishburn, executive director for CMHA Waterloo-Wellington. 

Services are available for doctors, nurses and personal support workers, as well as workers helping to keep the healthcare system up and running, such as hospital kitchen and cleaning staff, Fishburn said. 

"They're all under stress," Fishburn told CBC News. 

People been 'absolutely incredible'

Those providing mental health care are a combination of staff from CMHA and its community partners, as well as a number of private psychologists and therapists who have volunteered their services pro-bono, Fishburn said.

"People have been absolutely incredible about offering their expertise and their support at no cost," she said.

Right now, there is no wait time for service through this program, said Fishburn.  

The web-page also features advice about dealing with stress and sleeping more soundly during COVID-19, and links to CMHA's virtual mental health programs. There is a dedicated helpline available to answer healthcare workers' questions about the program, Fishburn said.

Those who are in a mental health crisis can also contact CMHA's primary Here 24/7 helpline at 1-844-437-3247.

The program is being paid for through a combination of donations and existing CMHA funding, although Fishburn said they are applying for additional funding through the province and other sources.

For now, services through Here4Healthcare.ca are only available to healthcare workers in Waterloo and Wellington.

Fishburn said other CMHA branches across the province are working on similar initiatives.

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