Posters/Branch Response to COVID-19

Branch Response to COVID: Community Response Team

Community Response Team is a centralized, multi-disciplinary, on-demand service model designed to meet the needs of new clients as well as high-risk clients currently using services during the COVID-19 pandemic.


CMHA Peel Dufferin

Branch Response to COVID: Telephone-Based Supportive Counselling

Telephone-Based Supportive Counselling was established to support people experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety due to COVID-19 and the impact that adapting to new social circumstances is having on their daily lives.


CMHA York & South Simcoe 

Branch Response to COVID: Skill-Building Support for Health Care Workers and Teachers

The Skill-Building Support for Health Care Workers and Teachers Program helps front-line workers with their increased stress and anxiety during COVID-19. It helps build a toolkit of skills on resilience as they manage the stresses of working through a pandemic.


CMHA Hamilton

Branch Response to COVID: Free Call-In Counselling

The exiting walk-in counselling service that had been provided four days a week transitioned to a phone-based free call-in counselling service provided five days a week. Clients call in and leave a voicemail that is returned by a counsellor within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.


CMHA Halton Region

Branch Response to COVID: Project Connection

When in-person services were reduced as a result of COVID-19, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ottawa Branch launched Project Connection in an effort to distribute smartphones to clients who otherwise had no access to virtual care.

While intensive case management and outreach services have returned to in-person in recent months, thanks to Project Connection, CMHA Ottawa has been able to continue seeing many clients through videoconferencing to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19.


CMHA Ottawa

Using Networks to Improve Services: The Ontario Common Assessment of Needs QI Network and Community of Interest

An overview of how two networks are bringing people together to improve the use of the Ontario Common Assessment of Needs (OCAN) tool, with the goal of improving mental health and addiction services:

    • The OCAN Community of Interest brings together stakeholders to share knowledge, with the aim of improving how the OCAN tool is used.
    • The OCAN QI Network brings together stakeholders to collaborate on a quality improvement (QI) project.

The Community of Interest and QI Network are linked by a similar focus—to improve the use of the OCAN tool—and often collaborate with each other. For example, the Community of Interest developed and disseminated a Promising Practice article that profiled the OCAN Network.


OCAN Community of Interest & OCAN QI Network

Complementing OPOC Data with PRN-usage to Improve Tenants' Mental Health

A QI project was initiated to improve the mental health of supportive housing tenants. Due to COVID-19 restrictions it was suspected that social isolation increased impacting the tenants’ mental health. A survey with 3 OPOC questions (q34 at core) was initiated, providing only limited insights.
To provide complementary data, active PRN-usage for anxiety and sleep medication was sampled from 8 clients (cohort n = 20) across 12 months to showcase the impact of pre/during COVID-19. Combined PRN median usage jumped from 35 to 96 per month. In addition, the survey showcased that 2/3 rated their mental health as poor or somewhat poor.


Phil Nowotny, Shepherds of Good Hope 

Mental Health Matters Autism Initiative

The Mental Health Matters initiative created an adaptation of the mental health promotion program Living Life to the Full. This 12-hour, eight-week group provides opportunities to learn coping skills using the tenets of cognitive behavioural therapy, and the adaptation was designed for autistic adults and caregivers of autistic people. There were challenges evaluating this previously in-person program that shifted to virtual group delivery due to Covid-19. Anxiety and depression levels decreased throughout the program, decreasing or levelling off at the 3, 6 and 12 month follow-ups, and mental wellbeing increased. Transitioning from an in-person, pre-Covid program to a virtual program means that it is possible that health measurements could be impacted by Covid-19. Virtual courses show significant survey attrition rates of 49% pre-session to Week 8 and 83% Week 8 to 3 month follow-up, where in-person delivery saw better response in the pre-session to week 8 surveys.


Dr. Mackenzie Salt, Tobi McEvenue & Kaushi Nathan, Autism Ontario

Bridging the Older Adult Digital Divide

Since March 2020, clients of the District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program at the Canadian Mental Health Association Fort Frances Branch are not all engaging in virtual care services with their Geriatric Mental Health Worker. Seniors that do not engage in virtual care rely on telephone engagement or distanced lawn visits with their worker. Telephone support and lawn visits do not provide an opportunity for an in-home or a virtual face to face interaction that fosters effective counselling, cognitive assessment and home monitoring to support their overall health, wellness and ability to live and thrive in their home. Geriatric Mental Health Workers are unable to visually assess how the client is managing the activities of daily living and some staff have identified that they themselves struggle with using technology.


Norma Reather & Charlene Strain, CMHA Fort Frances

Delivering Outreach to Mental Health Caregivers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since 1983, The Royal has offered the public mental-health family groups. Amidst physical distancing restrictions, in-person sessions pivoted to virtual. Between Mar 23 and June 30, 2020, 202 attendees joined 27 sessions. Nine participants followed from in-person groups whereas 38 were new joiners. Thirteen e-bulletin summaries were distributed to participants. The virtual groups and e-bulletins promoted shared learning and outreach. Agility in pivoting to virtual sessions and co-designing summaries with caregivers demonstrated initiative and innovation. Engaging caregivers in mental health and improving understanding of their lived expertise improves client outcomes. 105 feedback surveys received in 2020 indicated 84% of respondents rated sessions as highly to extremely helpful; 89% were likely or extremely likely to recommend the sessions. Senior management set a 2021 performance goal for growing caregiver group attendance by 10% over 2020 (approximately 342). Attendance was 311 in 2020. To date, Feb 11, 2021 attendance is already at 192.


Julia Haynes, The Royal

From Forest to Screen: A Virtual Therapeutic Treatment Program

During COVID-19, the Towhee therapeutic summer program for youth with mental health challenges complicated by learning disabilities (LDMH) was forced to move to virtual care. Using a virtual day-camp model, youth were offered 2-hour daily online sessions for 10 days over the course of 2 weeks. A total of 75 youth received service from June through August 2020. Youth engaged in a range of virtual programs which included cooking, creative projects, or role-playing games with the aim of decreasing isolation and increasing self-regulation and social skills. Qualitative data collected from staff, participants, and caregivers suggest some areas of success pertaining to increased accessibility, the gaining of useful skills, and decreased feelings of loneliness. Still, the quality of social connections online was not perceived as being the same as when connections are made in-person and the virtual format appears to have been less suitable for youth who have more difficulty with self-regulation.


Trish McKeough, Daisy Hu, & Kelsey Styles, Child Development Institute 

Caregiver OPOC Survey-Blitz for Quality Improvement

One author spearheaded the development of the OPOC Caregiver Tool,
piloted at The Royal in 2018. In 2020, amidst a global pandemic, The Royal launched an OPOC-survey blitz, completing 82 caregiver surveys, thus surpassing a target of 50. The co-designed plan with Client and Family Relations, involved seeking referrals from 32 organization services; orienting six experienced and new surveyors with one surveyor assigned to caregiver contacts specifically. Client-surveyors promoted the Caregiver OPOC via
clients. The OPOC team received 166 referrals in all with the majority of
surveys completed by phone and a few on-line; facilitated by emailing links with secure keys to the OPOC webpage. Interpreters assisted in completing three surveys. Twenty-three caregivers accepted hospital parking day-passes as honorariums for completion. The data collected from the Caregiver OPOC along with the hospital feedback system will inform quality improvements for caregivers.


Cynthia Clark & Julia Haynes, The Royal

COVID-19 Pandemic & Virtual Services at a First Episode Psychosis Program

Traditionally, patients receive healthcare primarily through face-to-face encounters; however, the emergence of COVID-19 has forced the majority of healthcare services to shift from in-person visits to online supports. In response, On Track First Episode Psychosis program, an outpatient mental health program specialized in early assessment & treatment of patients aged 16 to 35 years who are experiencing symptoms of psychosis, created a new model of service delivery and provided many services including case management, psychiatric visits, and psychoeducational and recreational groups virtually. In this poster, we will describe the development and delivery of virtual services at On Track, its benefits and challenges, its impact on the clinic performances and share preliminary results of the impact of the virtual services on first episode psychosis clients, and their families.


Elham Sadeh, Crystal Morris & Shannon Turcotte, The Ottawa Hospital

Traumatic Grief and Loss: Lifting up and Supporting Harm Reduction Workers

At Breakaway, we know the best data is in the stories of people when they share their lived experiences. Our staff told us that the grief and loss they face on the front lines of the drug poisoning crisis is traumatic and unrelenting. This kind of stress can lead to burnout, turnover, and worse. Our
environmental scan revealed this problem to be widespread, with almost no existing supports. Emerging research backed up what we knew to be true: when it comes to grief and loss, we are failing harm reduction workers. As a team, we responded by researching and collecting data, resourcing innovative new supports in collaboration with peers and grief experts, and establishing an inter-agency network to ensure that grief and loss support for harm reduction workers is not a flash in the pan, but an ongoing commitment to ensure they have the support and tools to do their work sustainable.


Nicola Bangham, Juno Zavitz & Liz Beeforth, Breakaway