The past six months have been a strange, lonely, and scary time for the world. Amidst the ongoing global pandemic and call for societal reform in North America (and beyond), there are many reasons to feel scared, lonely, or depressed and all of this has serious effects on mental health.
A recent study by the Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association found that three-fifths (58%) of Ontarians believe the mental health of themselves, those in their household (55%), and friends and family outside their household (59%) are negatively affected by COVID-19. And behaviours that are usually recommended to stay mentally healthy are taking a hit. For example, 36% of Ontarians say their diet has gotten worse, while 48% say exercise habits have worsened.
It’s no surprise, then, that CSI Regent Park member Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) has seen a huge surge in demand for their services recently. Founded in 2008 in the UK, Togetherall has been operating in Canada since 2018 in partnership with Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN – now Ontario Health) and have engaged over 42,000 Ontarians. It is an evidenced based platform that has proven to help those who are struggling with stress, isolation, anxiety, depression and other common mental health concerns.
In a country where access to mental health care is limited by not only inadequate medicare coverage but many other systemic barriers, Togetherall provides access to an anonymous, online, peer-to-peer mental health community and self-help support that is monitored by clinicians 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a social impact business, there is a strong focus on democratizing access to mental health support.
When COVID-19 turned our world around, registrations for the service increased by 234% between February and April during the first month of the pandemic. Overall activity on the platform grew by approximately 90% compared to the year prior.
Did we mention Togetherall is free for everyone in Ontario?
Togetherall’s Senior VP and GM in North America, Matthew McEvoy, says, “The pandemic has driven a huge increase in demand for our services as people have been concerned and anxious about the virus, the impact of social isolation (separation from friends, families, therapists, and regular outlets for anxiety, etc), and most recently the economic impact related to job loss, housing and food insecurity, and students graduating into an uncertain job market.”
At CSI we believe in the power of community, and clearly Togetherall does too. Matt says, “Our service has been connecting people to others and providing a real benefit – 93% tell us they have an improved sense of well-being and 70% say they feel less isolated as a result of using our service.”
A note about their recent name change in a message from the team at Togetherall.