Government of Canada invests millions into mental health and distress centres

News release

Distress centres experiencing a surge in demand with the impacts of COVID-19 on mental health

June 11, 2021 | Ottawa, Ontario | Public Health Agency of Canada

Canadians are reporting an increase in stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. In fact, almost half of all Canadians have reported that their mental health has worsened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Distress centres are a vital part of our community providing mental health support and resources to those in need. Across the country, these centres are seeing a surge in demand for mental health services.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $9,275,000 in 57 distress centres in Canada through the Public Health Agency of Canada. This investment will support a range of distress centres across the country, including in rural and remote areas. It will also support centres that provide crisis support for specific populations—including seniors, Indigenous communities, LGBTQ2 populations and racially and linguistically diverse communities. Project funding will support recruitment, training, operating costs, and knowledge exchanges.

This is part of a $50 million investment first announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement to support distress centres across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. A second solicitation will be launched in the months ahead to provide funding to additional centres. A portion of these funds will support the development of resources that assist distress centres in meeting the needs of vulnerable populations during the pandemic.

All Canadians, including those who are at-risk and those living in rural and remote areas, need access to critical health and mental health resources and services. As we work with provinces and territories on expanding virtual services, we are making sure that Canadians can use emergency supports when they need them.

The Government is committed to supporting Canadians and their mental health through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can access the Wellness Together Canada portal, or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth).


“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all of us. Many are experiencing new or worsened mental health challenges during these times, and we are taking action to help Canadians in crisis. If you need help, know that you are not alone. This critical support will help distress centres offer assistance across the country, and boost other investments to improve mental health services. Connecting Canadians to appropriate supports and resources will have substantial benefits and will help those in crisis.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Quick Facts

  • One in three Canadians will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime.
  • This funding announcement is part of a mental health investment through the Fall 2020 Economic Statement, which provided $93 million dollars in overall funding to support mental health initiatives. The remaining $43 million was earmarked to expand the Wellness Together Canada (WTC) portal.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is continuing to work with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and other partners to implement and sustain an expanded pan-Canadian suicide prevention service. This service does not replace existing crisis lines and services. Rather, it will collaborate with distress centres across Canada to support improved access to services.
  • The Wellness Together Canada portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support, and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals.

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Thierry Bélair
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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