Windsor mental health association looks to fundraise $1M amid COVID-19

·2 min read

A local mental health non-profit is looking to raise $1 million as the COVID-19 pandemic heightens demand for mental health services.

Claudia den Boer, CEO of the Windsor-Essex County chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said aspects of the pandemic including social isolation and school closures are having an impact on the mental well-being of many.

"People are just having a hard time coping and some are losing hope," she told host Tony Doucette on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning Monday.

The organization has seen about a 25 per cent increase in people saying that they've contemplated suicide, she said, a number den Boer suspects could be higher given that stigma is considerable barrier to people seeking help.

"This data is based on the conversations that we're having through our programs and services, and with individuals who are reaching out," she said.

Just in the last week, den Boer said she's heard of at least four people who died by suicide locally.

"We really believe that prevention and promotion (of mental health) can make a difference," she said.

The organization's million-dollar fundraising drive will largely support prevention and mental health promotion activities, including at workplaces, den Boer said.

"We really are looking forward to being able to bring a number of more people to come and serve and deliver programs at workplaces," she said.\

It fund-raises every year but is aiming higher this year, which is also the year the branch is celebrating its 50th year serving the community..

She said demand has risen, and she expects it to continue to grow as we come out of the pandemic.

44% of Ontarians saw mental health deteriorate: survey

Recent surveys suggest many are struggling with mental health due to COVID-19.

Last month, the CMHA released a survey that found 44 per cent of Ontarians said their mental health had deteriorated since the coronavirus pandemic started.

A national survey from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto found 24 per cent of participants reported feeling anxiety and nearly 22 per cent felt depressed.

Where to reach out if you need support

The Ontario government has a list of resources available for those struggling with mental health and addictions.

The Canadian Mental Health Association's Windsor-Essex crisis line is (519) 973- 4435.