Shoppers Drug Mart offers free mental health services during COVID-19

The Loblaw-owned pharmacy chain is making it easier for Canadians to access online medical support during these uncertain times

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Shoppers Drug Mart is introducing a free virtual stress management service to help Canadians stay as healthy as possible during these anxious times.

“With health and financial concerns, isolation, and anxiety rising, this program is designed to treat stress with modern approaches,” said Jeff Leger, president, Shoppers Drug Mart. “Hopefully, it brings people peace of mind, and possibly gives them and the healthcare system some relief at a time when both are burdened.”

Shoppers Drug Mart is delivering the service through a partnership with SilverCloud Health.

The new mental health service follows the introduction of two other programs from Loblaw Companies in recent weeks, all intended to help Canadians with health care during the COVID-19 crisis.

Loblaw chair Galen Weston made those services the focus of his latest post shared to PC Optimum members and on the Loblaw Companies website. Since mid-March, when grocery retail quickly emerged as a vital service for Canadians being asked to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Weston has been providing regular posts about how Loblaw stores have been responding to meet customer needs and to address their concerns.

“Today, I wanted to shift the focus a little bit and share some updates for those of you thinking about your overall health (pretty much all of us these days),” he wrote.

Shoppers Drug Mart is helping Canadians connect with their doctors—without going to clinics or hospitals—through software called Medeo. “We are making the software available for free so that as many primary care physicians as possible can provide consultations to their own patients online,” he said.

And for those unable to connect with their own doctor, or who may not have a doctor, Shoppers also partnered with the online medical care service Maple to provide access free of charge to a “virtual walk-in clinic” where doctors can provide a medical consult online.

“And as we all worry about our physical health, many of us are also feeling the emotional toll of these uncertain times,” said Weston, explaining the new mental health support offering. “More of us need this help these days, so we’ve made it free for all Canadians.”

The SilverCloud program blends cognitive behavioural therapy, positive psychology and mindfulness with a focus on resilience and the ability to recognize and change negative thinking and behaviours. The program contains eight modules using text, video and audio clips along with interactive activities to change behaviours.

Though the stay-at-home measures are essential to slowing the virus, public health officials have made it clear they are concerned about the mental health toll that comes from being isolated and anxious for such an extended period of time. On Thursday the Ontario government said it would commit $12 million to virtual mental health support.