Mental health services free for more front line workers

(CanStockPhoto.com image)

Ontario 211 Services and the Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) have expanded their partnership to provide more frontline workers with the mental health care they need.

The partnership will enable frontline workers without extended health benefits to access psychological services at no cost throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

This announcement expands OPA’s current Disaster Response Network (DRN) program in Toronto with 211 Central to the rest of the province.

Frontline persons requiring mental health coverage can be referred and guided to DRN services by calling 211. Community Navigators will confirm eligibility for the program and help register frontline workers through the OPA portal, where they will be matched with an appropriate resource.

“Ontario 211 is thrilled to expand this partnership that began in Toronto and be a starting point for frontline workers across the province looking for mental health resources and support,” says Karen Milligan, Executive Director, Ontario 211. “Persons working in retail, grocery stores or shelters for example may not have health benefits required to pay for the services being offered through the DRN program. Especially during these stressful times, it’s reassuring to know our 211 navigators can now make these direct connections to services that care for our carers.”

“The pandemic has made life difficult for so many people. More than ever, we need to support our frontline workers while they support the public – whether it’s as a first responder, nurse, personal support worker or cashier; we have to ensure our services are available to them. We cannot understate the impact of this pandemic on mental health, and we need people to know where they can turn to for help,” Dr. Diana Velikonja, OPA President.

“The DRN was created to provide a critical service during emergencies and works by removing all immediate barriers to receiving care for the most vulnerable. As psychologists, we’re proud to be in the front lines of mental health care for those who provide essential services to all Ontarians. A partnership with 211 will ensure that more frontline workers and their families get to access the care they need no matter where they are in the province,” Dr. Liliana Tarba, Clinical Psychologist and DRN Lead.