Transcript: Flattening Ontario's Mental Health Curve | May 05, 2021

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a pale blue shirt and a black tie.

A caption on screen reads "Flattening Ontario's mental health curve."

Steve says IN ADDITION TO THE OBVIOUS HEALTH CARE CRISIS CAUSED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, THE TOLL ON MENTAL HEALTH CONTINUES TO MOUNT, ON PEOPLE AND ON THE SYSTEM. WITH US FOR HIS INSIGHT, LET'S WELCOME BACK DR. KWAME McKENZIE, CEO AT THE HEALTH POLICY NON-PROFIT, THE WELLESLEY INSTITUTE AND A PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO. HE'S ALSO A MEMBER OF THE ONTARIO COVID-19 SCIENCE ADVISORY TABLE'S MENTAL HEALTH WORKING GROUP...

Kwame is in his early fifties, bald, with a goatee. He's wearing glasses, a black suit and a pink shirt.

Steve continues KWAME, IT'S GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN. HOW ARE YOU MANAGING THROUGH ALL THIS?

Kwame says GREAT TO SEE YOU, STEVE. AND I'M MANAGING FINE. I JUST NEED TO SAY THAT I'M NOT REPRESENTING THE SCIENCE TABLE AT THE MOMENT, THE MENTAL HEALTH TABLE. SO EVERYTHING THAT I'M SAYING HERE IS MY OWN OPINION, NOT THEIRS.

Steve says WE ARE HAPPY TO PUT THAT ON THE RECORD. WHEN THIS PANDEMIC ENDS, KWAME, AND WE FULLY FLATTEN THE CoVID CURVE, ARE WE GOING TO HAVE A MASSIVE MENTAL HEALTH CURVE TO FLATTEN AFTER THAT?

The caption changes to "Kwame McKenzie. Wellesley Institute. @kwame_mckenzie."

Kwame says MY OPINION IS YES, BECAUSE... WE STARTED THINKING WE NEED TO FLATTEN THE CURVE AND NOW WE HAVE A DIFFERENT CURVE WE NEED TO LOOK AT AND WE NEED TO GET IN FRONT OF, REALLY. THERE ARE ABOUT FOUR REASONS IN MY OPINION WHY WE'RE GOING TO HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER RATES OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS. ONE IS THE CoVID INFECTION ITSELF. A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO GET CoVID THEN GET A MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSIS. THE SECOND IS THAT THE LOCKDOWNS AND THE DISRUPTIONS TO PEOPLE'S LIVES HAVE LED TO ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN SOME PEOPLE. THE THIRD IS THAT WE'VE HAD A SIGNIFICANT DISRUPTION IN ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE, AND THAT INCLUDES MENTAL HEALTH CARE, AND SO WE'RE SEEING SOME PEOPLE RELAPSING BECAUSE OF THAT. OTHER PEOPLE WORRIED ABOUT PHYSICAL ILLNESSES THAT AREN'T BEING TREATED. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, OBVIOUSLY, WE'VE GOT AN ECONOMIC PROBLEM THAT WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH, AND WE KNOW THAT FINANCIAL INSECURITY AND POVERTY ARE VERY LINKED TO RATES OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS.

Steve says OKAY. THAT'S A GOOD LIST. LET'S FOLLOW UP WITH WHAT SPECIFIC ISSUES YOU ARE SEEING ON THE RISE AS A RESULT OF THOSE FOUR THINGS THAT YOU JUST ENUMERATED.

Kwame says WELL, I THINK IN THE GENERAL POPULATION, WE'RE SEEING QUITE A LOT OF ANXIETY AND MILD DEPRESSION AND STRESS. WE'RE ALSO SEEING INCREASING RATES OF SUBSTANCE USE AND, YOU KNOW, OPIOID DEATHS ARE ON THE RISE. THEN WE'RE SEEING RELAPSES OF EXISTING MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, AND WE'RE SEEING QUITE A LOT OF COMPLEX GRIEF. SO PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST LOVED ONES AND DEALING WITH THE GRIEF OF THAT, SOMETIMES NOT ABLE TO GET TO FUNERALS AND NOT REALLY COMPLETE THE PROCESS. THEN FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SORT OF FRONT LINE WORKERS AND OTHER PEOPLE WORKING IN THE PANDEMIC, WE'RE SEEING QUITE A LOT OF TRAUMA. WE'RE SEEING BURNOUT. AND WE'RE SEEING STRESS AND MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN THOSE PEOPLE AS WELL. SO WE'RE SEEING QUITE A LOT OF PROBLEMS THERE THAT ARE GROWING OVER TIME.

Steve says ONE THING I HEAR ANECDOTALLY, AND I'LL GET YOU TO EITHER CONFIRM OR DENY THAT IT'S IN FACT THE CASE, SUICIDES AND DOMESTIC ABUSE, YES OR NO?

Kwame says SURPRISINGLY, THE JURY'S OUT. SO WE EXPECT AN INCREASED RATE OF SUICIDES. WE HAVE SEEN INCREASED SUICIDAL THOUGHTS. BUT THE DATA I'VE SEEN IN ONTARIO IS EQUIVOCAL ABOUT AN ACTUAL RISE IN COMPLETED SUICIDES. SO THAT'S EQUIVOCAL. DOMESTIC ABUSE, MOST DEFINITELY, INCREASED RATES OF DOMESTIC ABUSE, PEOPLE BEING IN MORE CONFINED SPACES TOGETHER AND THE LOCKDOWN, GOING WITH THE STRESS, DEALING WITH EMPLOYMENT AND SUBSTANCE USE. THAT'S NOT TO GIVE EXCUSES FOR INCREASED DOMESTIC ABUSE, BUT JUST THE CONTEXT IN WHICH WE EXPECT INCREASES TO HAPPEN.

Steve says I GUESS I SHOULD ASK THE LOGICAL FOLLOW-UP QUESTION, WHICH IS: IS IT ALL MALE ON FEMALE?

Kwame says I DON'T KNOW. BUT DOMESTIC ABUSE IS NOT MALE ON FEMALE. IT IS MOSTLY MALE ON FEMALE. BUT WHEN WE'RE THINKING ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE, WE'RE CLEARLY THINKING THAT THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS MALE ON FEMALE. BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO THINK OF ABUSE IN HOUSEHOLDS OF LGBTQ YOUTH AND OTHER VULNERABLE PEOPLE WITHIN HOUSEHOLDS. WE SEE ABUSE ON OLDER PEOPLE WITHIN HOUSEHOLDS AS WELL. SO DOMESTIC ABUSE IS QUITE WIDESPREAD. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IS MALE ON FEMALE. BUT THERE ARE OTHER GROUPS THAT WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHEN WE'RE THINKING ABOUT DOMESTIC ABUSE.

Steve says UNDERSTOOD. LET ME READ SOMETHING THAT WAS RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, AND THIS WILL HIGHLIGHT ONE WORD IN PARTICULAR, AND THAT WORD IS "LANGUISHING."

A quote appears on screen, under the title "The word of 2021." The quote reads "Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
It is the neglected middle child of mental health. It's the void between depression and flourishing -the absence of well-being. You don't have symptoms of mental illness, but you're not the picture of mental health either. You're not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you'll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression -and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness."
Quoted from Adam Grant, The New York Times. April 19, 2021.

Steve says AS SOON AS I SAID THE WORD, YOU SAID, "OH, YEAH," SO I GATHER THIS IS NOT NEWS TO YOU.

Kwame says NO, THIS IS... IT'S AN INTERESTING FACT. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT OFTEN HAPPENS IN SORT OF NEWS SITUATIONS IN THE PANDEMIC IS THINGS WE KNOW ABOUT ARE GIVEN NEW LABELS AND THOSE NEW LABELS GET SOME CURRENCY. THAT'S NOT TO SAY IT'S WRONG, AND THE FACT THAT PEOPLE IDENTIFY WITH THE WORD "LANGUISHING" I THINK IS VERY IMPORTANT. BUT THE DESCRIPTION OF LANGUISHING SEEMS VERY SIMILAR TO THE DESCRIPTION OF MILD DEPRESSION, MILD ANXIETY, AND IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO KNOW WHETHER YOU CAN DIFFERENTIATE THE TWO. THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT IT... SOME PEOPLE SAY, WELL, THIS ISN'T IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT'S NOT A SERIOUS MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM AND IT DOESN'T NEED MEDICAL INTERVENTION. AND I WOULD SAY, WELL, YOU'RE RIGHT, IT DOESN'T... POSSIBLY IT DOESN'T NEED MEDICAL INTERVENTION, BUT IT IS AN IMPORTANT PROBLEM. YOU KNOW, IF WE... IN A SERVICE ECONOMY, IN THE ECONOMY WE HAVE, WE NEED PEOPLE TO BE BRIGHT-EYED AND BUSHY-TAILED IN ORDER TO PUSH FORWARD. IF WE WANT TO BUILD BACK BETTER, WE ALL NEED TO BE ON OUR A-GAME. AND LANGUISHING, WHICH IS MENTAL DISTRESS, WHICH IS MENTAL UN... I CAN SAY NOT MENTAL... MENTAL ILL-HEALTH. I DIDN'T WANT TO SAY THAT BECAUSE IT SOUNDS SO CRUMMY, BUT IT'S CERTAINLY NOT WELL-BEING. IT'S GOING TO BE IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE TO HAVE A STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH IT, AND THAT STRATEGY MAY NOT BE A MEDICAL OR CLINICAL STRATEGY, BUT IT MAY BE ONLINE STRATEGIES, IT MAY BE THAT WE HAVE TO THINK ABOUT EQUIPPING EACH OTHER WITH THE ABILITY TO WORK THROUGH IT, BUT IT IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT THAT WE DEAL WITH IT. INTERESTINGLY, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I SAW ON THE STATISTICS CANADA WEBSITE WAS THE IMPACT OF CERB ON MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL DISTRESS. AND YOU CAN SEE A DECREASE IN MENTAL WELL-BEING IN CANADA AS THE PANDEMIC STARTED TO ROLL OUT, AND THEN... AND YOU CAN SEE THE IMPACTS, PARTICULARLY ON LOW INCOME GROUPS. AND THEN AS THE CERB WAS ROLLED OUT, YOU CAN SEE A SIGNIFICANT UPTICK IN MENTAL WELL-BEING, AND I WOULD IMAGINE ALSO A DECREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF LANGUISHING THAT WAS HAPPENING IN CANADA. SO WHEN WE'RE THINKING ABOUT WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO ABOUT LANGUISHING, WE POSSIBLY HAVE TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE CAN EQUIP OURSELVES, WE POSSIBLY NEED TO THINK ABOUT WHAT ADVICE WE CAN GIVE OURSELVES TO BE MORE MENTALLY HEALTHY, BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THE SITUATIONS WE FIND OURSELVES IN OR WE PUT PEOPLE IN, AND THINK ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO TO DECREASE THE WORRIES AND DECREASE THE STRESS AND GIVE PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK THROUGH WHAT IS A VERY DIFFICULT AND TRAUMATIC TIME FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "For more stories and information: Tvo.org/MentalHealthWeek."

Steve says WELL, THAT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE, OF COURSE, THE EXPRESSION WE HEAR ALL THE TIME IS WE CAN'T WAIT TO RETURN TO NORMAL. BUT USUALLY WHEN PEOPLE SAY THAT, THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT, I THINK, YOU KNOW, GETTING THE ECONOMY BACK TO NORMAL, GETTING OUR LIVES IN TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO SEE PEOPLE BACK TO NORMAL. I'M NOT SURE PEOPLE... I'M NOT SURE PEOPLE USE THE EXPRESSION IN TERMS OF, "I CAN'T WAIT TO GET MY MENTAL HEALTH BACK TO NORMAL," BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'RE SAYING WE NEED TO FACTOR THAT INTO THE EQUATION AS WELL. BUT, KWAME, WE'RE NOT GOING TO SEE ANOTHER CERB, RIGHT? THE GOVERNMENT IS JUST NOT GOING TO CREATE ANOTHER CERB. SO HAVE YOU GOT ANY OTHER IDEAS THAT CAN BE BROADLY APPLIED THAT COULD BE HELPFUL TO THE ENTIRE COUNTRY'S MENTAL HEALTH?

Kwame says AND I THINK THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION, AND THE IDEA WASN'T THAT IT WAS THE CERB. THE LEARNING WAS THAT SOMETIMES IF YOU CAN THINK OF HOW YOU CAN DECREASE STRESS AND YOU CAN INCREASE THE PREDICTABILITY OF PEOPLE'S LIVES AND PEOPLE CAN PROJECT FORWARDS INTO HOW THEY SEE THEIR LIVES SPANNING OUT, THAT THEY ARE LESS LIKELY TO BE PSYCHOLOGICALLY UNWELL. THEY'RE LESS LIKELY TO BE SO STRESSED. AND SO MY QUESTION WOULD BE, WHEN WE MOVE FORWARD AND WHEN WE'RE TRYING TO BUILD BACK BETTER, HOW WE THINK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH IN ALL POLICIES, HOW WE THINK ABOUT DEVELOPING A SOCIAL CONTRACT WITH ONTARIANS AND CANADIANS THAT SAYS: WE ARE GOING TO BUILD BACK, BUT WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING TO THINK ABOUT AND LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WHILE WE'RE DOING IT. AND SO WHEN WE'RE THINKING ABOUT HOW WE'RE GOING TO DECREASE HOMELESSNESS, HOW WE'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH THE BOOM, THE PROPERTY BOOM, HOW WE'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH CREATING NEW JOBS, WE MIGHT WANT TO THINK ABOUT WHETHER THERE'S A 5 OR 10 percent OF THAT POLICY THAT WE KNOW CAN IMPROVE PEOPLE'S MENTAL HEALTH. SO WE NEED MENTAL HEALTH IN ALL POLICY, AND WE NEED A CONTRACT WITH GOVERNMENT THAT SAYS, WE'RE GOING TO THINK ABOUT THIS. WE'RE GOING TO START THINKING MENTAL HEALTH WHEN WE'RE THINKING ABOUT BUILDING BACK BETTER.

Steve says WE SEEM TO HAVE A PRETTY GOOD HANDLE ON THE NUMBER OF POSITIVE TEST CASES FOR CoVID-19. WE SEEM TO HAVE A PRETTY GOOD HANDLE ON WHO IS BEING HIT THE HARDEST ECONOMICALLY. DO WE ALSO HAVE A GOOD SENSE ABOUT WHO HAS BEEN HIT IN TERMS OF MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGES DURING THE COURSE OF THIS PANDEMIC?

Kwame says I THINK WE DO. THERE'S SOME ACTUALLY BIG SURVEYS THAT HAVE COME OUT OF STATISTICS CANADA WHICH HAVE SAID THAT... AND THERE ARE SOME INTERESTING THINGS HERE... WHICH HAVE SAID THAT OVER-65-YEAR-OLDS THAT HAVE BEEN HIT HARD BY THE PANDEMIC BUT HAVEN'T HAD AS BIG AN IMPACT ON THEIR MENTAL HEALTH, WHEREAS PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 65, ESPECIALLY THOSE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 18 AND 55, HAVE HAD QUITE BIG IMPACTS ON THEIR MENTAL HEALTH. AND WOMEN HAVE HAD BIGGER IMPACTS ON THEIR MENTAL HEALTH THAN MEN. NOW, POPULATIONS SUCH AS LOW INCOME POPULATIONS, INDIGENOUS, BLACK, AND OTHER RACIALIZED COMMUNITIES, THAT HAS BEEN VERY HIT HARD BY CoVID, HAVE ALSO BEEN HIT HARD WITH REGARDS TO THEIR MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, AND SOME OF THAT IS BECAUSE OUR RISK OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IS LINKED TO THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH. AND POPULATIONS THAT ARE MORE EXPOSED TO THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH AND MORE EXPOSED TO CoVID ARE UNDER GREATER STRESS AND THEREFORE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE MENTAL HEALTH IMPACTS OF CoVID.

Steve says COULD YOU COMPARE THE STATE OF OUR PREPAREDNESS OR ABILITY TO DELIVER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT AND WHERE IT IS TODAY?

Kwame says I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE ISSUES ABOUT THAT PHRASE WE'D REALLY LIKE TO GET BACK TO NORMAL. NOW, NORMAL, WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN ONTARIO BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, WAS THAT WE HAD SERVICES THAT WERE UNDERFUNDED AND WE HAD INCREDIBLE NEED THAT WASN'T BEING MET. WE HAD SERVICES THAT WERE ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL AND REALLY DIDN'T MEET THE NEEDS OF A LOW INCOME AND RACIALIZED PEOPLE OR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE. AND WE HAD SERVICES THAT DIDN'T REALLY MEET THE NEEDS AT ALL OF PEOPLE WHO USE SUBSTANCES. SO IF WE WENT BACK TO NORMAL, WE'D BE GOING BACK TO UNDERFUNDED, POORLY COORDINATED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FULL OF PEOPLE WHO ARE WORKING REALLY HARD. WE ACTUALLY HAVE GREAT SOCIAL WORKERS, GREAT NURSES, GREAT OUTREACH WORKERS, GREAT PSYCHIATRISTS AND PSYCHOLOGISTS OUT THERE, BUT WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH OF THEM AND WE DIDN'T HAVE A COHERENT SYSTEM THAT OFFERED PEOPLE EQUITABLE CARE IN A WAY THAT WAS FITTING OF A HIGH INCOME COUNTRY. SO IF WE WENT BACK TO NORMAL, WE'D BE IN TROUBLE. WE ALSO FOCUSED ON MENTAL ILLNESS AND NOT ON MENTAL HEALTH. AND PART OF THE CHALLENGE THAT WE HAVE IN CoVID AT THE MOMENT IS THAT WE HAVE A BIG INCREASE IN MENTAL ILL HEALTH, IT ISN'T QUITE MENTAL ILLNESS, AS WELL AS CHALLENGES IN MENTAL ILLNESS. SO WE NEED A MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM AND A MENTAL ILLNESS SYSTEM AND A SUBSTANCE USE SYSTEM. SO WE NEED ALL OF THOSE THINGS PUT TOGETHER AND COORDINATED, AND THAT'S NOT SOMETHING THAT WE HAD BEFORE.

Steve says I'M GOING TO ASK MY FRIEND TONY BURKE TO BRING UP BOARD NUMBER 2 HERE JUST AS WE REMIND EVERYBODY WHAT THIS CURRENT ONTARIO GOVERNMENT, WHEN IT WAS RUNNING FOR OFFICE IN 2018, PROMISED ON THAT REGARD. THE PCs SAID...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Campaign pledge." The quote reads "'The fact is too many people who struggle with mental illness and addiction don't know where to turn.
They feel left behind far too often. Help just isn't there when they need it. Instead of getting help, they're put on a waiting list... that means problems just get worse. They can't work, many end up on the street or in the hospital. Others suffer in silence."
Doug Ford, as quoted on Durhamregion.com. May 1, 2018.

Steve says KWAME, I'M GUESSING THERE'S NOT A SINGLE THING THERE THAT YOU COULDN'T SIGN ONTO AND SAY, YUP, THEY'VE GOT THAT PRETTY WELL FIGURED OUT. NOW, ADMITTEDLY THEY MADE THAT PROMISE BEFORE THE PANDEMIC HIT AND THEY'VE HAD OTHER FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS THEY'VE HAD TO FULFIL SINCE THEN. BUT GIVEN THAT THAT'S WHAT THEY'VE GOT ON RECORD, HOW HOPEFUL ARE YOU THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO IMPROVE ONCE WE GET A HANDLE ON THIS PANDEMIC?

Kwame says I HOPE THAT THINGS ARE GOING TO IMPROVE. OBVIOUSLY ONE OF THE COMMITMENTS THAT THE ONTARIO GOVERNMENT HAD WAS 3.8 BILLION DOLLARS THAT THEY WERE GOING TO PUT INTO MENTAL HEALTH. 1.9 BILLION DOLLARS COMING FROM THE FEDS AND 1.9 BILLION DOLLARS THAT THEY WERE GOING TO PUT IN THEMSELVES OVER 10 YEARS. NOW, THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE ENOUGH TO GET US THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM THAT WE NEED. BUT IT IS EXTRA MONEY AND IT'S MONEY THAT HAS BEEN AGREED AND I BELIEVE THAT THEY'RE STILL MOVING FORWARD ON IT. THE QUESTION FOR ME IS HOW WE BALANCE NOT JUST A MENTAL ILLNESS SYSTEM BUT ALSO A MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM, AND WE THINK ABOUT WHY THE SOCIAL POLICY AND ALSO HOW WE THINK, WELL, WE COULD JUST LEAVE THIS TO THE PROVINCE, BUT ACTUALLY WE WANT THE CITY INVOLVED, WE WANT OUR CITIES INVOLVED. WE ALSO WANT THE FEDS INVOLVED. WE WANT BUSINESS INVOLVED. WE WANT THE PRIVATE SECTOR INVOLVED BECAUSE WE KNOW WORKPLACE EMPLOYMENT IS IMPORTANT AND THE CHARITY SECTOR AND ALSO SOCIAL SERVICES DO SUPPORT PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH. WE NEED THE HOUSING SECTOR INVOLVED AS WELL. AND MY QUESTION IS: HOW DO WE BRING ALL OF THOSE THINGS TOGETHER BECAUSE THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT LOOKING ON THE SERVICE SIDE IS INTERESTING, BUT THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE ARE MUCH WIDER THAN THAT, AND WE NEED EVERYBODY INVOLVED AND REALLY LED BY PEOPLE WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND TRYING TO COORDINATE SERVICES THAT MEET PEOPLE'S NEEDS.

Steve says WELL, WITH JUST A FEW MINUTES LEFT HERE, I WONDER IF THIS IS AN IDEA THAT MIGHT BE HELPFUL. YOU KNOW THAT THERE'S A WEB PORTAL FOR GETTING A VACCINE. THERE'S A WEB PORTAL IF YOU NEED YOUR WAGES TOPPED UP. THERE'S A PORTAL FOR PEOPLE TO PROMOTE BUSINESS IDEAS... ANYWAY, THERE'S LOTS OF WEB PORTALS OUT THERE FOR DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION ON THIS ISSUE. HOW ABOUT AN ONLINE PORTAL THAT DIRECTS PEOPLE TO THE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES THAT THEY NEED... WOULD THAT BE USEFUL?

Kwame says YES, IT WOULD DEFINITELY BE USEFUL. I'LL TAKE ONE STEP BACK AND SAY THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WELLESLEY INSTITUTE, WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT, IS A SOCIAL CONTRACT FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND THAT'S ON THE WEB AND THAT MIGHT BE SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE WOULD WANT TO ADD THEIR VOICE TO, AND AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, WELLNESS TOGETHER IS A PLACE THAT YOU CAN GO ONLINE AND GET ACCESS TO RESOURCES AND ACTUALLY SERVICES AND SUPPORTS THAT YOU MIGHT NEED. AND THE PROVINCE DID ACTUALLY MAKE ONLINE COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY FREE THROUGH THE PANDEMIC, AND PEOPLE CAN GET ACCESS THERE WITHOUT REFERRAL FROM THEIR FAMILY DOCTOR. BUT THAT DOESN'T GIVE YOU ACCESS TO THE... NONE OF THESE GIVE YOU ACCESS TO THE FULL SUITE OF RESOURCES THAT YOU NEED TO BE MENTALLY HEALTHY, AND THEY ALSO RELY ON YOU BEING ABLE TO, AS YOU SAID, GO ONLINE, UNDERSTAND HOW TO NAVIGATE THE INTERNET, AND TO UNDERSTAND THE INTERVENTIONS AND SUPPORTS THAT ARE AVAILABLE. AND THOSE INTERVENTIONS AND SUPPORTS MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE IN ALL LANGUAGES, MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE TO ALL PEOPLE, AND MAY BE DIFFICULT TO GET IF YOU'RE A PERSON WHO HASN'T GOT BROADBAND, CAN'T AFFORD BROADBAND, OR YOU'RE NOT TECH SAVVY. SO I THINK WE NEED A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT STRATEGIES. BUT CERTAINLY THAT ONE NUMBER OR ONE PHONE LINE OR ONE WEBSITE, WHICH I KNOW THERE WAS SOME MONEY IN THE LAST FEDERAL BUDGET AND I KNOW THAT WE ALREADY HAVE 211 ONTARIO, THEY'RE THERE, BUT IT NEEDS A BIT MORE THAN THAT TO NOT JUST GET YOU AN IDEA OF THE SERVICES YOU WANT, YOU NEED, BUT ACTUALLY GET YOU THE SERVICES TO YOUR DOOR, WHICH I THINK IS
PROBABLY GOING TO WORK BETTER.

The caption changes to "Producer: Eric Bombicino, @ebombicino."

Steve says WELL, WE'RE ALWAYS GRATEFUL WHEN YOU COME ON OUR PROGRAM AND GIVE US THE 411 ABOUT 211. SO DR. KWAME McKENZIE FROM THE WELLESLEY INSTITUTE AND U OF T, AS ALWAYS, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

Kwame says THANKS VERY MUCH, STEVE. PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

Watch: Flattening Ontario's Mental Health Curve