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Bulletin: We are all trying to accept and cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Psychological Association has created several fact sheets in their "Psychology Works" series related to COVID-19:

Coping with and Preventing COVID-19

Psychological Impacts of the Coronavirus

Working from Home During COVID, With and Without Children

As of March 20, 2020 our office is closed to face-to-face visits and has moved to phone and video sessions only.

This is in compliance with provincial directives and is a step to keep everyone as safe as possible. If you have an appointment booked you will be contacted with instructions about how to switch to the new format. We do not want your treatment to be interrupted at this difficult time.

We have been successfully using the VSee platform for some of our sessions for several years now. However, there have been reports this week of problems due to the VSee system being overloaded. As a consequence, we are ramping up the Zoom system as an alternate. Unfortunately, we have been advised that the more popular video platforms like FaceTime and Skype do not meet provincial privacy standards.

We will be posting further information to assist you with the pandemic.

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit.

 

This week the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. We all have a responsibility to do our part to slow the spread of this new virus to ensure our medical system has the time and opportunity to treat all who may need treatment.

New Office Procedures

As of the writing of this post our office is still open for scheduled appointments. However, we have made some changes to office procedures:

  • If you have an appointment within 14 days of travelling outside Canada, please call the office to re-book your appointment.
  • If you have fever, new cough, or other possible COVID-19 symptoms please call the office to re-book your appointment.
  • If you have been exposed to anyone who might have the virus, please call the office to re-book your appointment.
  • As you arrive for your appointment please clean your hands with sanitizer.
  • As of today we will be temporarily waiving the late cancellation fee due to COVID-19 concerns.

If it becomes necessary, we will be switching to secure video to ensure minimal impact on your ability to continue your psychotherapy.

COVID-19 Testing Centre Update

As of March 15, 2020 William Osler Health System's COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Peel Memorial Centre will test people who meet the following criteria:

  • Mild symptoms of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection or Flu-like Illness and ANY of the following:
    • Fever greater than or equal to 38 degrees
    • Underlying immunocompromised patients (e.g., Chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, Dialysis)
    • Over 60 years of age
  • Referred by public health due to contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19
  • Health care workers in any acute care, long-term care or primary care setting (prioritized)
  • Pregnant women.

 

If you are experiencing symptoms contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit.

 

Bell Let's Talk hat

January 29 is Bell Let's Talk day for 2020. This week Dr. Stevens attended a presentation by Bell Let's Talk Chair and Order of Canada recipient, Mary Deacon, who spoke about the need for "decisive action for positive change" in mental health funding in Canada. #BellLetsTalk has become Canada's most used Twitter hashtag ever and like previous years it will likely be the top Twitter trend around the world on January 29, 2020. In his work Dr. Stevens sees daily the benefits of people talking about their mental health.

MIAW for 2019 is October 6-12. Coordinated each year by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, the purpose of this week is to educate Canadians about the reality of mental illness. More information can be found on the CAMIMH website.

Dr. Stevens celebrated this week by participating as a panel member in a public health literacy event at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness on October 8. The event's title was "Anxiety and Depression: Helping to Cope."

Once again, Psychologists across Canada are celebrating February as Psychology Month. Sponsored by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), the purpose of the event is to highlight for Canadians "how psychology works to help them live healthy and happy lives, help their communities flourish, help their employers create effective workplaces, and help their governments develop good policies."

To mark the month, many Psychologists have made their time available for public information talks on Mental Health during the month. Dr. Stevens will be joining other Psychologists to sponsor an educational event on mindfulness research for staff at their local hospital.

Messages from the Canadian Psychological Association:

  • Psychological treatments are less expensive than, and at least as effective as, medication for a number of common mental health conditions.
  • Psychology researchers help us better understand how we change as we age.
  • Psychology helps us understand what makes for a successful and satisfied workforce.
  • Research shows psychological treatments work better than medication for most types of anxiety.

For more information about how Psychology works, see the Psychology Works Fact Sheets web page. To find out about public events in your area, check out the Canadian Psychological Association's Psychology Month page.

 

Bell Canada is holding Bell Let's Talk Day on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. If you have a Bell cell plan then participation is easy as the carrier will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every text message, mobile call, and long distance call by subscribers on January 25. You don't have to be a Bell subscriber, though. This year there are other ways for people to get involved. For example, Bell is counting tweets with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag that day and will add 5¢ for every one. Also, their FaceBook page offers other ways for people to participate.

While raising funds for mental health is a fantastic initiative, don't lose sight of the other goal of the day and that is for all Canadians to be able to have conversations about mental health.

 

A press release by the Manitoba Liberal Party proposes that Psychologists be covered under the provincial Medicare plan, Manitoba's equivalent to OHIP. The first part of the plan would see Psychologists across the province funded in a similar way to Physicians. Critical priority areas such as services for children, pregnant women and individuals with depression and PTSD would be covered by Medicare.

For more information, see the press release.

To let your politicians know that mental health is as important as physical health and that as a Canadian access to a Psychologist is important to you, visit the Canadian Psychological Association's Mind Your Mental Health advocacy page and follow the prompts.

 

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s 2015 Mental Health Week is from 4-10 May.  You can participate on social media by posting relevant information using CMHA’s hashtag #GETLOUD or #MentalHealthWeek or #mentalhealth or #psychology. Visit www.mentalhealthweek.ca for more information. CMHA's message: "We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It’s a state of well-being."

 

As part of an increasing trend worldwide, family physicians in the Netherlands have been advised to use antidepressants as a first line of treatment for patients with severe depression only. For other patients with depression symptoms, the published best practice guidelines recommend psychotherapy as the initial treatment of choice. (TheBMJ. 2012;344:e4211)

 

In February, 2005 the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care asked the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC) to make recommendations as to whether psychotherapists or psychotherapy should be regulated in the province. The purpose of regulating or licensing would be to protect the public. Several jurisdictions already have laws that regulate psychotherapy. These include California, Colorado, Florida, and New York. Other jurisdictions, like Ontario, are considering regulating psychotherapy. These include the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

 

A two-year study reported in the September 2005 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry supports a widely held belief that effective treatment for Bipolar Disorder includes helping patients achieve stable rhythms in daily life. The specific treatment focused on helping patients maintain daily routine and gain balance and stability in their personal and social lives. Patients who had this treatment were less likely to relapse over the next two years than patients who had therapy with a different focus. It was especially important for this intervention to be done early. (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62:996-1004)