Assessing the Capacity of the Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce to Respond to COVID-19

Bourgeault, Ivy L | $184,509

Ontario University of Ottawa 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

BACKGROUND: The people who provide mental health and substance use services play acritical role in the response to COVID-19.The pandemic has brought about big changes for this workforce, such as the sudden shift to online approaches, adjusting to wearing masks, and responding to increasing levels of anxiety, trauma and grief in the population. We know from previous disasters and epidemics that the mental health and substance use impacts are likely to be complex and long-lasting, and may not fully emerge until after the worst of the crisis. PURPOSE: This study will provide better information about the availability of mental health professionals like psychologists, social workers and addictions counsellors to respond to the mental health and substance use needs of people in response to COVID-19. GOALS: The specific goals are to address gaps in information about how COVID‑19 has changed the kinds of mental and substance use services that people need and that can be offered, and to provide the people who make decisions about mental health and substances use services with the information they need to improve these services. APPROACH: We will summarize information that has been previously published and we will gather new information from surveys, interviews with experts and mental health and substance use service providers and their organizations. We will examine not only those working in the public system, but also in the private system including employee assistance programs, private practitioners and those in private treatment centres. Once all of this information is gathered, we will engage with leaders and decision makers to build a shared action plan for next steps.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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