Website aims to help Montrealers of all backgrounds locate vital mental health resources

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Accessing mental health services during this pandemic has been difficult, especially those tailored to the needs of some of the city's diverse cultural and religious groups.

Two Montreal health institutions — the Neuro and the Jewish General Hospital's Lady Davis Institute — have joined forces with McGill University and Bell Let's Talk to create an online resource called the Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre — a site aimed at helping people from different backgrounds to better access the mental health services they need.

"There are materials there collected from the web, or links to other things on the web in different languages, and about different facets of mental health that might affect ethnocultural communities, Indigenous peoples, refugees," says Dr. Laurence Kirmayer, a McGill professor who specializes in transcultural psychiatry.

The idea, he says, is to promote greater equity by addressing the aspect of language and culture in delivering mental health services.

"In general, ethnocultural communities, newcomers, various minority groups are underserved in our health care system, specifically with respect to mental health," Dr. Kirmayer says. "One of the issues is that mental health experience varies, in some ways, by culture, by how we interpret our experience, by the kinds of things we think are the best ways of coping.

The site has been around for years, but was recently re-launched, thanks in part to $250,000 in funds collected by the annual Bell Let's Talk initiative.

"Because of the grant from Bell a few years ago, we were able to really revamp it in many ways and make it more appealing and more accessible to the general population," Dr. Kirmayer says.

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