Rise in mental health awareness and concerns puts more pressures on app-based wellness

The pandemic has shone a light on mental health, and the need for more supports. Carly Robinson speaks with the founder of DiveThru and a therapist about what comes after awareness.

As we approach two years since the start of the roller-coaster of pandemic restrictions, mental health professionals are starting to see more people reaching out for help.

For therapist Simone Saunders, it’s “just the fact that the pandemic has spanned longer than a lot of us anticipated, I think weighing on a lot of people.”

This, combined with increased awareness around mental health and the need for supports, Saunders says this has seen “an increase in need in mental health services, and that can be seen in the waitlist for practitioners, there’s a shortage of therapists.”

Saunders is a therapist at DiveThru, an Edmonton-based app with the goal of making mental health learning and tools more accessible to a younger generation. But for DiveThru founder Sophie Gray, this should not replace traditional mental health supports.

“I’m a big fan of saying everyone should be in therapy,” says Gray. “Mental health and mental illness are not the same things and we all have mental health.

“There are ways we can be caring for our mind and our whole self each and every day.”

Finding the last two years the increased awareness around the realities of mental health has helped businesses like DiveThru.

“Just three years ago, I had to spend a lot of time convincing investors that this was a space that needed attention and needed dollars,” Gray says that is not the case anymore.

Noticing with the growth in tech-based mental health supports, Gray says consumers must be careful: checking the site has backing by certified mental health professionals and aren’t making impossible claims like ‘becoming your own therapist.’

But many Canadians still face barriers when seeking traditional mental health supports, be it long waitlists of financial realities.

“Sometimes we see the DiveThru tool being the only tool being used, but that’s more of a government problem. Let’s make therapy a part of our universal health coverage.”

If price is an issue, therapists like Saunders recommend looking into group therapy and checking if your employer pays into an Employee Assistance Program that offers emergency counselling.

“Mental health should be in the same category as physical health,” says Saunders.

“You are not alone. It’s fair to say that everyone has experienced mental health challenges in the last couple of years as a result of everything that is going one.”

If you or anyone you know are in immediate need of mental health support, we’ve listed some supports:

Edmonton: https://edmonton.cmha.ca/programs-services/distress-line/

Alberta: https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/findhealth/Service.aspx?id=6810&serviceAtFacilityID=1047134

Canada (COVID specific) : https://canada.ca/covid-mental-health

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