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Zoey: Mental health care when it’s needed most


Zoey: Mental health care when it’s needed most Image
With the pressures of COVID-19, the need for mental health supports is greater than ever. At the same time, access to in-person care has been reduced for the safety of patients and staff. It’s a challenge that has been met enthusiastically by the caring team behind Osler’s outpatient mental health program. They quickly pivoted to virtual care to ensure their vulnerable patients weren’t left adrift.
 
“My team is absolutely amazing. They really put everything together. Some of us brought webcams from home so that we could provide that access to our patients so that they weren't just waiting,” says Zoey, a nurse in the mental health program. Currently, most services are offered virtually, including individual and group therapy sessions, which are conducted via Zoom.
 
“I'm surprised to see how transparent the patients have been in group therapy despite them not ever seeing each other in person,” says Zoey. “They still connect to each other, to us and to their treatment.”
 

Virtual care in mental health is helping to eliminate barriers

In fact, there are advantages to virtual treatment. Patients who would normally travel from Alliston or Vaughan get convenient treatment from the comfort of home. “We've seen a really good response from the patients,” Zoey says. “Some of them really enjoy that virtual care eliminates the fees for travel and parking. As well, I would say because of the stigma with mental health, sometimes people don’t necessarily want to come into their community hospitals, in case they might see somebody, so virtual care has really eliminated that stigma.”
 
With lockdowns, fear of getting COVID-19 and the stresses of the holidays, anxiety is also on the rise. To those affected, Zoey says, “You're not alone in what you're going through. There are resources available. We want our patients and our donors to know that our mental health program provides that hope, that light at the end of the tunnel.”
 
As a busy nurse, Zoey is motivated each day by a desire to provide quality patient care. “What makes me proud is that our hospital was able to provide access to our most vulnerable population, our depressed clients as well as those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, our LGBT community. We were able to provide that access virtually, which really makes me proud to be working here—Osler didn't forget about them.” 
 
She stresses that she couldn’t do what she does without the support of her colleagues. “I have a great group of clinicians that I work with,” she says. “I don't know what I would do without them because they're just absolutely amazing, and they make work amazing. Working through COVID just feels so much more normal with them there.”
 

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