For even the most mentally healthy people the COVID19 pandemic has taken a toll on our emotional well-being. Many individuals are dealing with heightened anxiety, depression and grief as we adjust to our current realities. On average one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness annually. However, we know these are extraordinary times and these numbers are likely to increase.
When it comes to mental health and well-being it is always important to acknowledge your feelings and talk to someone you trust. Quite often this acknowledgement and communication can be enough to manage the situation. For others a greater amount of intervention and support may be necessary.
BounceBack is an evidence-based psychotherapy program that is operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). It is available free of charge to help individuals who are experiencing mild to moderate anxiety, stress and other mental health challenges related to the pandemic. Recently, the Ontario government announced an expansion of online and virtual supports, including BounceBack, as one of their strategies to support people during this time.
“We encourage everyone in our community who may be struggling at home to access BounceBack, says Ewelina Horochowik, Mental Health Educator, CMHA, Windsor-Essex County Branch.
Participants receive telephone coaching, skill-building workbooks and online videos to help them overcome mild to moderate symptoms and gain new skills to regain positive mental health.
“BounceBack is a guided self-help approach grounded in cognitive behavioural therapy that is a ‘proven approach to managing depression and anxiety,’ says Horochowik.
Topics covered include how to better manage stress, overcoming anxiety or issues with sleep. There are 20 workbooks in total available in different languages. The programs are self-help oriented with a focus on skill-building.
Individuals who are interested in participating in the program can be referred by their primary care physician or they can self-refer.
Horochowik notes that it’s important for primary care providers to maintain responsibility for their clients’ overall well-being during their time in the program, as BounceBack coaches are not counsellors or therapists.
Physicians who have referred clients to the program have been impressed by its accessibility and effectiveness.
“BounceBack is a valuable resource that overcomes access barriers and allows me to focus on people with more severe mental illness and in real distress. There is hardly a day when I don’t make a referral to the program. The level of doctor and client satisfaction is high,” said an Ontario physician.
Participants get up to six telephone sessions and it usually takes three to six months to complete the program, depending on the number of work booklets and pace.
BounceBack continues to deliver significant positive results. Depression and anxiety decreased by 44% for individuals who complete the program.
It is self-guided so people work at their own pace with direction from their telephone coach.
Participants must be at least 15 years old, suffer from mild to moderate symptoms and are required to engage with the material provided.