Many Ontarians feeling resilient despite pandemic

But more than half say access to regular mental health support would help them recover quicker: survey

Many Ontarians feeling resilient despite pandemic
More than one-third of Ontarians are open to using virtual counselling, finds a survey.

While almost half (45 per cent) of Ontarians say the pandemic has caused a negative shift in their mental health, 64 per cent say it has also made them more resilient.

Six in 10 Ontarians say they will be able to bounce back from these challenging times ― but 52 per cent say they would bounce back more quickly if they had access to regular mental health support.

However, just 39 per cent have considered getting mental health support in the past year, finds the survey by the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW).

This matches the findings of a previous report that found few people were seeking help for their mental health issues.

"While social work supports are individualized considering a person's unique environment and context, it's vital we uncover the major trends if we're going to be successful at addressing the depth and severity of the mental health challenges facing the province," says Deepy Sur, CEO of OASW.

Virtual support

While 23 per cent of the respondent say they would only seek support in person, 37 per cent would use virtual counselling, finds the survey of 1,001 Ontario residents.

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of Ontarians also say providing mental health supports virtually is a great way to speed up and improve access.

Also, 44 per cent say they would consider seeking support from a social worker.

More than four in five people worldwide seem to think that robots can support their mental health better than humans, according to a report.

And last year, researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago started testing a virtual agent powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to broaden access to mental health care. The app would talk patients through steps and strategies following a validated treatment protocol, using the same technology as Amazon’s Alexa.

“This project’s take-away message is not whether this agent or any other AI digital health agent would replace mental health specialists, but may improve the reach and impact of psychotherapy — complement and extend existing mental health services which, as we know, are severely in short supply relative to the demand,” say the researchers. 

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