Today Mayor John Tory announced that the City of Toronto is investing $2 million to strengthen mental health support for residents. The funds will be allocated to community groups and non-profit organizations to assist them in addressing mental health challenges, with an emphasis on supporting individuals in the neighbourhoods hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for this investment was approved by City Council in February 2021 and will be allocated through the TO Supports Investment Fund.
Funds will be distributed to seven of the community-based mental health organizations that are part of the City’s Mental Health Support Strategy and to at least 18 additional partner agencies. They will provide access to critical mental health support resources virtually and completely free of charge for vulnerable residents who may be experiencing stress, grief and loss, anxiety, depression or other mental health stressors as a result of the pandemic. The list of agencies providing mental health support through this partnership with the City is available on the City’s website .
Toronto residents can access this free mental health support from the safety of their own homes through text, online or by phone by calling 2-1-1 or visiting here. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Anyone feeling lonely, isolated, anxious or depressed or who knows someone who is struggling during this pandemic is strongly encouraged to reach out for help. The service is free, safe, and available for all who need it. From April 27, 2020 to March 20, 2021 more than 144,000 Torontonians called, texted or sent an online message for support to access mental health services. Of those who reached out, almost 130,000 people have received direct mental health support and more than 14,000 people were referred directly to mental health partners for additional support. For those looking for further support, there is a mental health section on the City’s website that is full of helpful advice and resources. See here .
The City launched the COVID-19 Mental Health Support Strategy in April 2020 to support the diverse mental health needs of Toronto residents during the pandemic. With increasing COVID-19 cases and strains, the need for continued, enhanced collaborative efforts to provide mental health support to residents and frontlines workers continues to be an escalated need. Since the declaration of the pandemic, the City has invested a total of $2.9 million in mental health support.
“As this pandemic continues, more and more people are struggling with their mental health. The expansion of mental health support resources will enable the continuation and increase of critical mental health services for vulnerable populations, such as seniors and youth, with a priority for Black, Indigenous and other racialized and marginalized groups, and frontline workers. Thank you to our existing partners for your continued efforts to help residents manage their mental health and wellbeing and to the new partners who will be joining us in these efforts.”
– Mayor John Tory
“COVID has had a disproportionate impact on marginalized Torontonians who are often isolated, frightened and vulnerable. More people than ever need our assistance and that support must be provided using new approaches that require timely investment. With funding from the City of Toronto Mental Health Support Strategy, we can build hope and resilience among those most acutely impacted by the pandemic.”
– Robert Ridge, Executive Director, Distress Centres of Greater Toronto
“LOFT Community Services is grateful for the City of Toronto’s support to expand our work at Toronto Community Housing sites in the north west of Toronto. This is a critical time. We see firsthand the immense impact of the pandemic on this community. Stress and isolation have exacerbated the existing mental health and addiction challenges of our clients. This funding will allow us to work alongside our Ontario Health Team to provide much needed mental health first aid and resiliency workshops to seniors and much needed care and support.”
– Heather McDonald, Chief Executive Officer, LOFT Community Services
“Black CAP is excited for this new funding as it will allow us offer Connection to Care for ACB LGBTQ+, HIV positive, differently abled community members using an online hub for support services, harm reduction and mental health outreach and drop-in sessions for differently abled community members. Our activities will be conducted using a peer support model where individuals with lived expertise are engaged to offer support to their peers through social and popular media, telephone and virtual one-on-one sessions.”
– Eno Akan-Essien, Acting Executive Director, Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention
“Research has shown that individuals in newcomer communities are more likely to develop mental health issues due to trauma and isolation and frequently face multiple barriers to receiving mental health care. This grant from the City of Toronto allows us to reach more people in newcomer communities, giving them a place to belong, skills to improve their mental health, assistance with the settlement process, and opportunities to pursue their educational and career goals in our city. We are thrilled that the City understands the importance of providing newcomer communities with accessible, safe and equitable mental health services.”
– Michael Anhorn, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch
“Understanding that violence begets violence, the impacts of violence on our youth within the community has created a devastating impact. The Harriet Tubman Community Organization recognizes the need to increase access to meaningful opportunities and decrease social barriers for tweens. Through the Youth Violence Prevention grant, we aim to provide culturally relevant and sustaining activities to minimize participation in ‘shadow’ activities and help youth build the entrepreneurial skills needed to create their own opportunities.”
– Everton Jamie Caine and Tina Malaty, Co-Executive Directors, Harriet Tubman Community Organization
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
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