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Free, online mental health support for kids and adults, available from the comfort of home



As many classes and educational efforts are moving online as a result of the COVID-19 related isolation, online mental health support is available to Ontario residents — both young and older — who may be feeling the impact of the current coronavirus threat and its health and economic impacts.

People can find tips for anxiety, to help with sleep disruptions, social isolation and more, says Angèle D’Alessio, mental health promoter with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

These serves have been available online for some time now, but D’Alessio says she is contacting media in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area to ensure that everyone knows about the online resources available to people, during this time of uncertainty and in light of the increased isolation.

Kids may be feeling stress, too, she points out.

“I work primarily in the schools so I always consider what our kids are going through. There may be stress around the information they are getting or not getting,” d’Alessio says.

Kids Have Stress Too is geared for kids, who can call or text. Here is the link.

There is also the Kids Help Phone: which offers 24/7 counseling by phone, text or live chat.

D’Alessio says that a minimum of 2,000 phone and texts a day are expected in the next week.

She shared information and resources for the the 15+ age group to manage stress, anxiety and low mood.

There are no wait times for BOUNCEBACK, which she recommends as a good resource if you are feeling low, stressed or anxious.

You don’t need a doctor’s referral, notes D’Alessio, although you will be asked to identify your family physician, as he/she will be kept informed of your wellbeing. Available in 16 languages, Bounceback is a free skill-building program managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). It is designed to help adults and youth (15 years and over) to manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. It is delivered over the phone with a coach and through online videos, and you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness, she says.

And there’s more. Big White Wall- is another 24/7 service moderated by trained practitioners who keep members safe, and facilitate the process of people helping people in an online format. Clinically managed and designed to support those with mild to moderate need. This is a peer-to-peer support resource and it’s free for Ontario residents.

Amid public concerns of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) experts are reminding individuals with exacerbated anxiety and depression symptoms of how to manage their mental wellness at this time of uncertainty.
CMHA York and South Simcoe’s CEO Rebecca Shields and clinical director Dr. Deanne Simms offer these five basic tips to help individuals experiencing heightened mental health concerns to remain calm and balanced as this public health situation unfolds.

• Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.

• Self-care is critically important at this time, as worries can be made worse if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Lean on social supports, try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage in enjoyable activities. Do the things you would typically do to support your health, and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them.

• Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.

• Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.

• If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, reach out for formal mental health supports from a recognized agency, such as CMHA.
CMHA Ontario and branches around the province provide programs and services to support your mental wellness, such as BounceBack, walk-in counselling, information on stress management, and much more. Learn more and find a local branch at

People can also visit to stay up to date on services and find up-to-date information on COVID-19, or can visit Facebook -CMHAEAST

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'There will be more deaths': COVID-19 outbreak in nursing home leaves small cottage community reeling –



Lloyd Thomas wishes he was well enough to take his wife out of the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., where COVID-19 has killed nine residents since late last week

Thomas has nothing but praise for the nursing home, located in a town of around 3,500 people in Ontario’s cottage country about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto, but the virus that has infected its residents has him fearing for her safety.

“I was afraid my wife’s going to die,” he said in an interview with CBC News. 

Thomas said a doctor at the facility told him his wife, Annabelle, is fine. But Thomas, who lives in Bobcaygeon, is 86, and Annabelle is two years older and has Alzheimer’s disease, meaning there’s little he can do but hope that she emerges healthy from the outbreak.

The facility is home to 65 residents. Since a news release went out March 26 reporting that two residents at the home had died, seven more have succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Michelle Snarr, the medical director of Pinecrest, said three other residents have tested positive for COVID-19. More than a third of the home’s staff — 24 people — also tested positive, and test results for six other staff members are pending, according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

‘It’s grim’

“There will be more deaths. It’s grim. It’s heartbreaking,” said Michelle Snarr, the medical director of Pinecrest. 

“We get more heartbreaking news all the time. I’ve been in practice for 32 years. I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff happen, but I don’t remember anything with this level of sadness.”

It’s unclear how the outbreak began, whether it came from a visitor to the facility or a new resident. But the number of cases and deaths within the small nursing home has stunned many in the community. 

“It’s pretty sad for a little community like this,” said area resident Bob Hetherington.

It was neighbours who first told Thomas about the deaths at the nursing home.

A sign of support sits outside Pinecrest Nursing Home, which is located in a small community in Ontario’s cottage country, about 150 km northeast of Toronto. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“Absolutely, I was shocked,” he said.

Sarah Gardiner, a nurse at Pinecrest who has worked at the home for 12 years, had a similar reaction. 

“I’ve been doing this a long time, never run into a situation like this,” she said.

“To have so much death occurring so quickly in such a short space of time and just to watch the effect on the community, not only the community of Pinecrest Nursing Home but the community of Bobcaygeon. 

“People are frightened, and it’s just overwhelming.”

Home turned upside down

When Gardiner arrived Saturday afternoon for work, having just returned from Vancouver, everything at the nursing home had changed, she said.

Equipment was all over the place, and everyone was walking around in full protective gear.

“The nursing home felt like a war zone,” said Gardiner.

Bobcaygeon, a small town made somewhat famous by the Tragically Hip song of the same name, is located in the Kawartha Lakes region, an area dotted with cottages.

Gardiner said she never imagined an outbreak like this could occur in such a small, out of the way, tourist area.

“You would think, OK, maybe in the city in one of the bigger [seniors] homes. But how it happened here, I don’t know,” she said.

“I really care about those people, and we’re losing them, and they can’t even see their family in many cases because we are in lockdown.”

Window visits

In some instances, family members are only able to communicate through the window of the nursing home, with a wave. 

“Unfortunately, by the point that happens, many of these residents are so ill that they’re not aware of what is happening around them and that their family is there,” Gardiner said.

“It’s a very lonely situation for the residents, and that makes it very heartbreaking.”

Ian Handscomb, right, his wife, Carol, left, and his father, Bill. Bill is a resident at Pinecrest Nursing Home, and his wife and son have been unable to visit him in person since the outbreak so have been waving to him through a window. (Submitted by Ian Handscomb )

Ian Handscomb and his mother have been doing regular “window visits” with his father, Bill, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease.

“What we do is sit outside his window and [talk] through writing on signs. We’re able to kind of keep in contact through that way,” he told CBC’s As It Happens.

But the past week, he says, has been an emotional rollercoaster. 

“We think maybe we’ve got to a good spot where they’re starting to make some progress, then we hear it’s ramping up again,” he said.

“And it’s very emotional for the families, and the whole community in Bobcaygeon are touched by this horrible, horrible situation.”

Handscomb lives in Toronto but has relocated to Bobcaygeon to be with his mother.

“We never thought in little Bobcaygeon, away from a big metropolis, that it would be one of the [disease] epicentres of Ontario.”

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World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected – Abbotsford News



The latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

Black Press Media posted these files from the Associated Press at 6 a.m., Monday, March 30.


  • Spain surpasses China in coronavirus infections tally.
  • Japan’s main medical association suggests declaring a state of emergency.
  • Tokyo Olympics rescheduled to start July 23, 2021.

Olympics delayed one year

TOKYO The Tokyo Olympics will open next year in July, the same slot scheduled for this year’s games.

Tokyo organizers say the opening ceremony will take place July 23, 2021. That is almost exactly one year after the games were due to start this year. The IOC and Japanese organizers last week postponed the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The rescheduled Olympics will start July 23, with the closing ceremony on Aug. 8. The Paralympics were rescheduled to Aug. 24-Sept. 5.

Spain: More than 12,000 health workers test positive

MADRID Authorities in Spain say 12,298 health workers in the country have so far tested positive for the coronavirus.

The figure is 14.4% of the total reported infections, which rose on Monday above 85,000. It placed Spain ahead of China and only behind the United States and Italy in the list of nations with greater contagion.

Medical staff has been a cluster for contagion in Spain, where at least nine of Spain’s 17 regions are close or beyond their limit of occupation of intensive care units.

In the hard-hit Madrid region, the military was building additional field hospitals on Monday.

Portugal: Foreigners left in limbo

LISBON, Portugal Foreigners in Portugal awaiting an official decision on whether they can reside in the country are getting access to public services, such as health care and social security benefits.

The Portuguese government is shutting down the offices of its immigration service on Monday because of the coronavirus. That leaves foreigners waiting for a decision on their legal status in an administrative limbo.

The government says anyone who applied in writing for a residence permit before a state of emergency was declared on March 18 is allowed to work.

The immigration service offices hope to re-open on July 1.

Portugal, which has a population of just over 10 million, has recorded 6,408 cases of the COVID-19 disease and 140 deaths.

Japan: Medical official urges government to declare state of emergency

TOKYO An executive member of Japan’s main medical association urged government officials to consider issuing a state of emergency, saying it will be too late once the coronavirus infection reaches an explosive state.

Satoshi Kamayachi, an executive director of Japan Medical Association and a member of the government-commissioned panel of experts, says the situation warrants a declaration of a state of emergency.

He says most experts at a meeting earlier in the day suggested a state of emergency be issued.

Japan until now was seen as keeping the outbreak under control, but the number of new cases in Tokyo and other cities have spiked since last week. Nationwide, Japan has about 2,600 cases, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 64 deaths. About 1,000 have recovered.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike last Wednesday warned its residents that the city is on the verge infection explosion. She asked its 14 million residents to stay at home over the weekend and suggested a possibility of a hard lockdown in the capital city.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that Japan is on the edge, but has not reached a stage that requires a state of emergency.

Greek PM pressures party to donate 50 per cent of their salaries

ATHENS, Greece Greece’s prime minister is calling on all his cabinet ministers and the lawmakers of his centre-right New Democracy party to donate 50% of their salaries over the next two months.

In a Facebook post Monday, Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the country’s politicians “must stand in the front line of solidarity.” He said the money generated from the “symbolic gesture” would be deposited in a special account set up to tackle COVID-19.

“We are all equal in the face of the health threat. But in the fight against it, each one of us must contribute according to their means,” Mitsotakis wrote in his post. “I am sure that the other (political) parties will also follow this choice.”

Spain: Top spokesperson tests positive

MADRID Spain’s main spokesman in the coronavirus crisis has tested positive for the COVID-19 disease but the results need to be confirmed, authorities announced as the country of 47 million became the third to surpass China in number of infections.

Dr. Fernando Simon, who had become the Spanish government’s face and voice during the crisis, was replaced at Monday’s daily press conference by his deputy, Dr. Maria Jose Sierra.

Simon was initially praised for relaying calm and clarity in the early days of the crisis. But as infections and deaths for the virus mounted, he was heavily criticized for having played down the severity of the outbreak.

Sierra says the increase of daily cases had dropped from an average of 20% before March 25, to 12% in the past five days. She says the drop was due to social distancing and confinement measures in place for the past two weeks.

The official says the main worry for the government now was the pressure on the country’s intensive care units because it could arrive 2 or 3 weeks after the infection.

Sierra says,”Reducing the pressure on the ICUs will be important for considering de-escalation measures.”

Britain: Lockdown is working

LONDON One of the scientists advising the British government on the coronavirus pandemic says there are signs that the effective lockdown of much of the country is working.

Professor Neil Ferguson thinks the epidemic is “just about slowing” as a result of the social distancing measures the government has imposed over the past couple of weeks.

That’s evidenced by the number of new hospital admissions, he told BBC radio.

“It’s not yet plateaued so the numbers can be increasing every day but the rate of that increase has slowed,” he said.

Ferguson, who had to self-isolate himself a couple of weeks ago after showing signs of the COVID-19 illness, says the number of deaths will continue to rise on a daily basis as it is a lagging indicator. Latest figures show that 1,228 people in the U.K. who have tested positive for the virus have died.

The epidemiologist thinks that between 3% to 5% of people in London may have been infected, with between 2% and 3% in the country as a whole.

Laos issues nation-wide lockdown

BANGKOK The Southeast Asian nation of Laos, which detected its first COVID-19 cases last week, has instituted a nationwide lockdown.

The state news agency KPL reports that Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued an order effective Monday through April 19 prohibiting all citizens and foreigners from leaving their accommodations except for essential activity such as buying food or medical care. Those engaged in agricultural production are allowed out according to rules from their local authorities.

All international checkpoints are closed except for transport of goods and to allow foreigners to return to their countries.

Laos has nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus with no deaths reported. The country of about 7.4 million people is one of the poorest in Asia.

Myanmar, which also reported its first COVID-19 cases last week, is closing its airports to all commercial passenger flights at midnight Monday through April 13. Exceptions are allowed with official permission for relief flights, all cargo flights and medical evacuations.

Myanmar, with a population of more than 56 million, is also one of the region’s poorer countries. It has 10 confirmed COVID-19 cases with no deaths.

British PM’s top adviser tests positive

LONDON British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, is the latest senior government figure to show symptoms of the coronavirus.

Johnson’s office says Cummings developed symptoms over the weekend and is self-isolating at home.

Johnson announced Friday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive, while the chief medical officer of England, Chris Whitty, says he is self-isolating after showing symptoms.

Senior U.K. officials have been criticized for holding face-to-face meetings until recently, even while urging the rest of the country to stay home and avoid all but essential contact with others.

Cummings is a controversial figure a self-styled political disruptor who helped lead Britain’s pro-Brexit referendum campaign in 2016. He has been blamed for briefing journalists that the U.K. was seeking “herd immunity” against the coronavirus by letting most of the population get it.

The government and its scientific advisers deny that ever was their strategy


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Ontario promises to probe 'tragic' situation at Bobcaygeon, Ont., nursing home; at least 25 other facilities have COVID-19 cases – The Globe and Mail



Only three residents of Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon – visitors seen here on March 30, 2020 – were tested for COVID-19 because of a provincial policy – usually applied in flu outbreaks – that once the virus at the root of an outbreak has been identified, everyone who is symptomatic is presumed to have it.

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press

The Ontario government says it will probe a “tragic situation” unfolding at a Bobcaygeon, Ont., nursing home where nine residents have died of COVID-19, but won’t commit to further transparency or testing at seniors’ facilities.

Premier Doug Ford offered condolences and his “heart and prayers” to the families who have lost loved ones at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, a cottage-country town about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto. As of Monday, 24 staff have also tested positive for the virus, with results pending for another 10.

It is difficult to say how many nursing homes across the province are fighting outbreaks of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Unlike some provinces, Ontario does not collect that data and publish it in one place. It leaves local public-health units and long-term-care homes to make that information public.

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The Globe and Mail surveyed numerous public-health units in Ontario on Monday and learned of 26 long-term-care homes with at least one case of COVID-19. According to The Globe’s reporting, 17 residents have died of the virus.

As the numbers of cases rise, health-care workers have expressed fear that the pandemic threatens Canada’s older population, with those in nursing homes particularly at risk.

Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton, who is also a medical doctor, said the government began to assess the risks of the pandemic to long-term-care homes weeks ago.

“The reality is that this is a virus that is new to the world and it is a threat, and we are doing everything possible to make sure that all measures are taken to address the issue that happened in Bobcaygeon,” she said at Queen’s Park on Monday.

“This is an evolving case … we will do absolutely everything that we can.”

She said the government will look at “shining a light” on the situation through increased screening and stricter isolation for people being admitted to the home, as well as staff. However, her office later clarified that admissions to Pinecrest have stopped amid the outbreak.

Toronto Public Health says it has six outbreaks in long-term-care homes and one in a retirement home. The hardest hit is Seven Oaks, where two residents have died, 12 are sick and nine staff are affected.

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How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

Coronavirus guide: Updates and essential resources about the COVID-19 pandemic

In Durham Region, two residents in their 90s at Hillsdale Terraces in Oshawa have died after testing positive for COVID-19. A resident of the Promenade Seniors’ Suites & Retirement Residence in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans also died. Anson Place Care Centre, a facility in Hagersville southeast of Brantford, has had seven cases – and one death. Public-health officials in Hamilton declared an outbreak at Heritage Green Nursing Home, where one resident has died of COVID-19 and 16 others are sick, including two who also tested positive. In addition, 10 staff members are ill, with one lab-confirmed case. An 88-year-old man at the Markhaven Home for Seniors in Markham also died of COVID-19 on the weekend.

Ms. Fullerton said it is up to David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, to determine whether outbreaks in long-term-care homes will be reported publicly, and if more than three people in a home will be tested for the virus. Only three residents of Pinecrest were tested for COVID-19 because of a provincial policy – usually applied in flu outbreaks – that once the virus at the root of an outbreak has been identified, everyone who is symptomatic is presumed to have it.

COVID-19 testing kits have been in short supply around the world, but Ms. Fullerton said testing at long-term-care facilities will be a priority.

On Monday, Dr. Williams said it is more challenging to test seniors for COVID-19 because of other medical conditions, which means symptoms are not always as overt.

“We’re looking at more and more finer measures to say, ‘can we detect it earlier,’” he said.

He added that the province will soon release new guidelines for long-term-care homes, including increasing training for staff and improved screening.

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Mary Carr, the administrator of Pinecrest Nursing Home, said in a statement that workers at the home are doing everything they can to keep “our residents, families and team members safe,” including actively monitoring residents for symptoms of COVID-19 and taking “necessary precautions” if they fall ill. “Our residents and staff have shown incredible resilience during this difficult time,” Ms. Carr said.

Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, which represents 22,000 workers in long-term care, said her union is aware of nine homes where at least one member has tested positive for the coronavirus.

All nine are in the Greater Toronto Area, Ms. Stewart said, including the Markhaven Home for Seniors. York Region’s medical officer of health also said that 43 of the home’s workers were ill, and 12 had tested positive. Another 22 of the home’s residents have symptoms of the virus, five of whom had tested positive.

“We’re pounding our heads against a brick wall. It breaks my heart to be in this situation right now,” Ms. Stewart said.

Candace Rennick, secretary-treasurer of CUPE Ontario, said workers at some homes have not been outfitted with the masks, gowns and gloves they say they need to stop the coronavirus.

“It’s a wildfire spread without the personal protective equipment,” Ms. Rennick said.

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Mr. Ford said on Monday that the government is working to secure more personal protective equipment, but supply will be “seriously challenged” if a massive surge of people enters hospitals over the next two weeks.

Ontario on Monday reported 1,706 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 351 from Sunday. Total deaths in the province rose to 33 people.

Meanwhile, Dr. Williams strongly recommended that people over 70 and those with compromised immune systems self-isolate, leaving their homes for essential reasons only.

Christopher Mio and Meghan Hoople found themselves jobless and wanting to help in the wake of COVID-19 isolation in Toronto. After flyering their neighbourhood with a free-of-charge offer, they received an outpouring of support and requests from people in need.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters.

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