The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted Ontario residents’ mental health. Unfortunately, the lockdown that was set up again at the start of 2021 has exacerbated the issue as anxieties surrounding the pandemic increase and people lose their sense of community.

The number of young adults and adolescents suffering from mental health problems continues to increase every day in Ontario. This has led many pediatricians to ask the government to reopen the schools for youths’ mental and physical well-being. Additionally, both the federal and provincial governments are working to expand various mental health services to support Canadians.

On January 28, the Bell Let’s Talk Day, Ontario Premier Doug Ford encouraged residents to reach out to people who might be struggling with their mental health.

“Whether you call your parents or your grandparents, or simply make a post on social media using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk—every action counts,” Premier Ford stated in a press release. “By letting others know you care, you’re making the first important step in helping someone get the help and treatment they might need.”

Ford’s government is addressing the need for mental health services with an additional $176 million in annual funding for mental health care and $194 million in emergency mental health and addictions funding.

“Showing our love and support can make a huge difference,” continued Ford. “In some cases, it may even save a life.”

Similarly, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie raised the Bell Let’s Talk flag at City Hall to encourage Mississauga residents to support “those who often suffer in silence with a mental illness.”

In addition to the government’s Bell Let’s Talk celebrations, the University of Toronto Mississauga campus (UTM) also raised awareness of mental illnesses and disorders. 

The Health and Counselling Centre hosted its annual Let’s Talk UTM Week, organizing several events such as the “Resiliency during Covid-19 Virtual Photo Exhibit,” “Mental Health Resource Fair,” and peer-led activities, among others.

The University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) also held its annual Mental Health Week to promote mental well-being. UTMSU collaborated with multiple organization to host different virtual events and programs for the UTM community throughout the week. 

On January 25, UTMSU collaborated with the Sustainability Office and Global Sustainable Foods to organize “How to Garden at Home and Beyond.” This event demonstrated how students could grow plants at home as a way to de-stress.

UTMSU also collaborated with UTM Ready Our Youth to host the “Naloxone Training and Harm Reduction 101” workshop, which took place on January 26. During the event, health professionals talked about Naloxone, the medication used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Mental Health Town Hall was the third and final event of UTM’s Mental Health Week and took place on January 27. The town hall aimed to provide UTM students with the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about mental health. The event also allowed students to learn more about the mental health services available to them.

The UTM administration and the UTMSU organized this week’s events to highlight the importance of mental health and the necessity to fight the stigma associated with mental disorders. As a community, we need to remember that we are all vulnerable and mental health problems could affect anyone.

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