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Be a light for someone in their darkest time


By Cameron Ketchum, Director of Community Initiatives, United Way East Ontario 

Our communities across East Ontario are still feeling the pressures of COVID-19. People are losing their stamina when it comes to mental health. 

The pandemic is still affecting our lives in big ways, especially for those facing mental health issues.  

What we’ve heard since the pandemic hit our region is that we are experiencing a secondary pandemic with people’s mental health. According to Ottawa Public Health, in October 2020, 40 per cent of residents in Ottawa reported their overall mental health and emotional wellbeing was ‘poor’ or ‘fair’. 

The cold and dark winter months bring on a whole new layer of challenges.

While some people are slowly finding ways to cope, many will carry the stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic for a long time.

Easy access to counselling and crisis lines is more critical than ever. 

I’ve seen first-hand how generosity, kindness, and innovation in our region has gotten us through some of our most challenging times. It’s because of selfless volunteers, donors, frontline workers, local businesses, and all levels of government that United Way was able to rapidly deploy critical resources at the height of the pandemic. 

Take, for instance, the incredible work United Way and local frontline organizations such as the Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region, Phoenix Centre for Children and FamiliesCounselling Connect, and so many others did to ensure crisis lines, counselling, and support were available for people when they needed it most.  

Now, 21 months on, your community is still counting on us, and we won’t stop now. 

With our partners and so many others, we’re helping the most vulnerable people make it through these ongoing challenges.

With your help, and the work of our community partners, we can continue to provide access to counselling via text, phone, or virtual one-on-one sessions, no matter where they live. We can help provide crisis lines to ensure someone is there to listen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  And, most importantly, people have mental health support that reflects their culture and specific needs.  

The pandemic remains a challenge for us all, but today, I’m asking you to keep the momentum going and help those most in need. 




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United Way made it possible for Jessica to get low-cost, virtual and in-person mental health counselling to manage grief after the sudden death of her girlfriend.

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