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HEALTH & SAFETY: RESCON applauds government’s mental health support in reaction to COVID-19
April 9th, 2020 7:26 pm     A+ | a-

Amina Dibe / RESCON

A lot has happened in the residential construction’s health and safety world since our Mental Health in Construction event last November.

That event was our first on the topic, which saw 115 industry representatives hear from construction experts, mental health experts and government on the importance of understanding and addressing mental health in the construction industry.

We all know that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and affects people of all ages, genders, cultures and industries – including construction.



Some highlights from the event that I’d like to re-share include commentary from Matthew Porter of BPA Benefits. He said that 44% of Canadians have coped with a mental health issue, but only 25% get the help they need. This is despite employer benefit programs that provide support and access to mental health professionals.

Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, was our keynote speaker at the event. He spoke about the government's modelling of a connected system of care with wrap-around services, so that every Ontarian can be fully supported to reach mental wellness.

Last month, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions released their Roadmap to Wellness Plan which is the province’s new plan for the mental health and addictions system. This four-pillared approach includes enhancing services across Ontario, investing in priority areas and expanding existing services, implementing innovating solutions and improving access. RESCON commends the government for an increased focus on mental health. 

It’s no secret that the spread of COVID-19 and the change of work structure (and life) has caused considerable rise in stress and anxiety for many. Health Canada, using data based on the 2002 SARS outbreak, estimates that more than 11 million Canadians will experience increased levels of stress during the COVID-19 outbreak, and over two million Canadians will show signs of traumatic stress.


Michael Tibollo, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

To combat the increase of mental health challenges during the pandemic, Associate Minister Tibollo recently announced $12 million of emergency funding has been allocated to expand mental health services. This funding will also increase access to online and virtual mental health supports.

It’s important that we continue to treat mental illness as a health and safety issue. There are many online resources available for coping with anxiety and stress caused by COVID-19, such as those provided by CAMH, as well as ConnexOntario, the provincially run phone or online chat service for addiction, mental health, and problem gambling treatment services.

RESCON’s health and safety committee identified mental health as a leading issue, and we have the goal of improving awareness, facilitating discussion, destigmatizing mental health and addictions, and being the leading construction association tackling this issue. We will continue to monitor issues such as drug abuse in construction and needle exchange programs on work sites. Pandemic permitting, we are planning to have an event on Drug Addiction and Abuse in construction this fall. Stay tuned to this space for more information.
 
Amina Dibe is the programs and policy analyst for RESCON. Email her at dibe@rescon.com.
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