Government of Canada improves digital access to mental health and substance use resources during the COVID-19 pandemic
January 14, 2021 | Toronto, ON | Health Canada
Supporting the mental health and well-being of Canadians, as we continue to face the uncertainty and challenges from COVID-19 and its variants, is a priority for our Government. In April 2020, in response to the significant rise in feelings of stress, anxiety and depression seen in the early months of the pandemic, a consortium of leaders in digital mental health and substance use support, including Stepped Care Solutions, Kids Help Phone, and Homewood Health came together to launch Wellness Together Canada (WTC) – an online platform that gives access to a virtual network of mental health and substance use supports.
Almost two years later, the pandemic continues to have a significant effect on Canadians’ mental health and well-being. Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced the launch of PocketWell, a free companion app to the WTC online portal. This new app provides another way to help Canadians access online mental health and substance use resources and supports, and measure and track aspects of their mental well-being.
Through PocketWell, people across Canada can access new resources, including a self-assessment tool and tracker that monitors mood and mental well-being. PocketWell also connects seamlessly to the WTC portal, allowing access to free and confidential sessions with social workers, psychologists and other professionals, as well as other mental health and substance use services all from their phone.
As of January 10, 2022, over 2 million people across all provinces and territories have accessed the WTC portal, with 20,000 to 30,000 using the services weekly. With the launch of PocketWell, it is expected that more Canadians will use and benefit from the WTC portal overall. In fact, a user survey indicated that 73 per cent believed that they would use WTC more frequently if an app was available, and 85 per cent said they could benefit from an easy way to track their mental well-being.
The release of the PocketWell app is part of WTC’s continued efforts to improve services based on Canadians’ feedback. PocketWell will be continually updated and improved in order to best meet the needs of users.
“At the beginning of COVID-19, in recognition of increasing mental health concerns, Health Canada supported a consortium of leaders in digital mental health and substance use to develop Wellness Together – a platform that would make it easier for people to identify, understand and access free and confidential mental health and substance use services. Today, we are pleased to join our partners to launch the PocketWell App to improve access to the Wellness Together platform.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
The WTC portal and the PocketWell app are the result of the work of a consortium of leaders in digital mental health and substance use support, including Stepped Care Solutions, Kids Help Phone, and Homewood Health. The consortium is funded by the Government of Canada.
More than half of WTC users are between 19-29 years of age, an age group that tends to see a higher prevalence of mental health and substance use-related conditions, yet have lower use of traditional mental health services
PocketWell is now available as a free download from the App Store or the Google Play Store.
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
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