The City of Toronto is starting construction on Ossington Avenue on March 27 until the end of May 2023. During the duration of construction, Ossington Avenue from Argyle Street to Queen Street will be reduced to south bound only for vehicles.
Recognizing the Mental Health Needs of Direct Support Professionals: An Essential Workforce
The following publications are part of our research program aimed at understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of service providers in the developmental sector.
September 2022 - Recognizing the Mental Health Needs of Direct Support Professionals: An Essential Workforce. 2022 Update
This report provides an update on the mental health of DSPs two and a half years into the pandemic. DSPs from across Canada completed an anonymous survey between June and July 2022; this report includes the findings from 805 DSPs from across Ontario. Key concerns identified by DSPs included the ongoing impact of pandemic on the mental health and well-being of staff and people with developmental disabilities. Attention to the larger structural and system-level stressors causing ongoing staff distress, in addition to individual and organizational capacity building is needed to effectively address the mental health needs of all members of this community.
May 15, 2022 - Recognizing the Mental Health Needs of an Essential Workforce: Perspective of Agency Leaders in Ontario Developmental Services during COVID-19
In November 2021, 260 agency leaders (e.g., executive directors, supervisors, managers, human resource specialists) from across Ontario completed a survey examining their mental health needs during COVID-19. Similar to the DSP survey results, agency leaders reported high levels of stress at work and concerns about the staff and people with developmental disabilities they support. Importantly, just over a quarter of participants (28%) indicated moderate to high levels of psychological distress. The report summarizes leaders’ suggestions for what would be most helpful to them moving forward.
February 22, 2022 - Recognizing the Mental Health Needs of an Essential Workforce. One Year Later: Being a Direct Support Professional in the Time of COVID-19
In June 2021, 462 DSPs completed a follow-up survey to identify how they were currently coping. Similar to a year prior, both DSPs and people with developmental disabilities continued to be seriously impacted by living and working through the pandemic. A greater proportion of DSPs reported experiencing moderate to severe distress; were more likely working in settings with COVID-19 exposures; and reported clients with developmental disabilities experiencing increased physical and mental health concerns.
October 2020 - Recognizing the Mental Health Needs of an Essential Workforce: Being a Direct Support Professional in the Time of COVID-19
In July 2020, researchers from the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre at CAMH surveyed 868 direct support professionals (DSPs) from across Ontario on the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health. Survey results reveal that one in four DSPs reported moderate to severe psychological distress. Furthermore, DSPs, and the people with developmental disabilities they support, were affected in diverse and varied ways by COVID-19 and related public health measures (e.g., changing roles, loss of routines). Respondents offered their suggestions to better support DSPs going forward, including recognizing the work of DSPs as essential, and that mental health services and supports for DSPs and people with developmental disabilities be increased.
Lunsky, Y., Bobbette, N., Selick, A., Jiwa, M.I. (2021). “The doctor will see you now”: Direct support professionals’ perspectives on supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities accessing health care during COVID-19. Disability and Health Journal, 14(3), 101066https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2021.
An online questionnaire was distributed to 942 direct support professionals (DSPs) in Canada examining the experiences of DSPs in supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities attending virtual and in-person health care during COVID-19. Findings provide insight into the experience of health care for this population during COVID-19 and can be used to support direct support professionals and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to adapt to safe, supportive and comprehensive virtual and in-person health care during the pandemic and beyond.
Lunsky Y., Bobbette N., Chacra M.A., Wang W., Zhao H., Thomson K., Hamdani, Y., (2021). Predictors of worker mental health in intellectual disability services during COVID-19. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 34(6), 1655-1660. https://doi.org/10.1111/jar.12892.
This paper reports on the results of a survey examining the variables associated with emotional distress of workers supporting adults with intellectual disabilities in Canada during COVID-19. Survey respondents included 838 full- and part-time workers in the developmental services sector. One in four workers reported moderate to severe emotional distress, one in three met screening criteria for anxiety and one in five met criteria for depression. Study findings highlight the significant stresses reported by staff working in this sector and the need to develop proactive and responsive policies and strategies to acknowledge the essential work they provide.
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