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Andrew is one of Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care’s advocates for mental health and addictions care.supplied

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on the mental health of Canadians, intensifying a mental health and addiction crisis that was already in progress. Mental health teams are responding to this critical need, adapting programs and fast-tracking the development of online tools. One such initiative is Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care’s research study on virtual mindfulness programs for youth and frontline workers; two populations at a heightened risk during the pandemic.

In collaboration with Georgian College, Mindfulness without Borders, and Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario, this body of research is underway at the Waypoint Research Institute in Penetanguishene, Ontario. This rural community on Georgian Bay is home to a world-renowned mental health research facility and 301-bed specialty mental health and addictions hospital.

Waypoint first offered the mindfulness program to frontline workers in the region. The response was so positive the hospital secured funding to measure its impact and develop the virtual program, making it transferable to benefit people everywhere, says Dr. Soyeon Kim, Waypoint research scientist and clinical epidemiologist.

“The goal is to make mental health care easier to access during the pandemic and into the future, adding additional focus on immediate needs of those at greatest risk.” says Dr. Kim.

Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.