The need for organizations such as the Centre for Online Mental Health Support (COMHS) was recognized at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Large numbers of individuals started to experience anxiety and depression, even if they had been managing well before. Additionally, many individuals with existing issues found that they got worse. There were also significant problems for parents, seniors, and multiple other groups.
While there are many groups offering static programs, or tools that can be downloaded, there was not the ability for large numbers of individuals to gain rapid, interactive, support in a live format where they have the opportunity for immediate format and a question and answer opportunity.
A group of friends got together and donated their time to make this happen rapidly. We worked with Blankets of Love, a long-standing Foundation for Mental Health charity, to put together a free series of presentations to meet these needs.
After launching in late March it has been extremely successful, and well-received. The needs continue to grow and COMHS is grateful to all supporters to allow it to continue to offer this valuable service.
Blankets of Love was formed by Sheila Ethier in 1996, and in 2004 formally achieved national charitable status as the Blankets of Love Foundation for Mental Health.
Since then it has continued to provide support services to those in a mental health crisis, including giving them hand-made blankets as a sign of support.
Sheila Ethier, R.N. is the Executive Director and Board Member of Blankets of Love. Sheila founded the program in 1996 for patients with a mental illness at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta.
Peter Silverstone was the founding Board Chair in 2004 and has recently rejoined the Board of Blankets of Love to help support this new initiative.
Blankets of Love still actively helps distribute hand-made blankets to those with mental health needs, in addition to offering a wider Blanket of Support via COMHS which (in Sheila’s words) is to “wrap around” those in need at this difficult time.