More Haliburton County residents will be able to access virtual mental health support during COVID-19 after the Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation secured some outside funding.

In her bi-weekly update on local response to the pandemic, HHHS CEO and president, Carolyn Plummer said the Foundation is the recipient of first-round funding from the United Way City of Kawartha Lakes – Emergency Community Support Fund.

“This funding will be used by HHHS and community partners to enhance access to virtual mental health services for vulnerable members of our community, so that more people can benefit from these important supports,“ Plummer said.

Plummer added she wanted to remind the public about services available to support mental health during the pandemic.

“As news of COVID-19 continues to circulate, it is natural to experience periods of stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, frustration, helplessness, isolation, difficulty sleeping or concentration, or physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, upset stomach, or low energy,” Plummer said.

She said many service providers have introduced virtual access to mental health supports, including counselling and treatment. For a list of local service providers and their contact information, visit haliburtoncares.ca or call the HHHS – Community Support Services Response Team by phone 705-457-2941 or by text at 705-457-0016 (Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), or by email at infocc@hhhs.ca anytime.

Other online mental health supports include the Wellness Together Canada portal from the Government of Canada, which provides tools and resources for mental health and substance use supports (wellnesstogether.ca), and Big White Wall, an online peer-to-peer support community for mental health (bigwhitewall.ca).

Plummer said health care workers can also access a set of mental health supports and resources from CAMH (camh.ca/ covid19HCW), as well as the Health Care Worker Assist service from Ontario Shores to provide virtual care for those workers who may be at risk of developing increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. Health care workers can access this service by visiting ontarioshores.ca/hcwassist.

Masks to be compulsory at businesses

Area businesses will have to have a policy in place that requires people to wear a non-medical mask or face covering before entering their commercial establishment.

The Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit said on July 7 that the requirement will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. July 13, 2020.

The use of masks will be required while the provincial Emergency Order remains in force or until such time that the Ministry of Health lifts the requirement.

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