OXFORD COUNTY, ONT. -- With stress and anxiety on the rise due to the ongoing pandemic, many people are looking for mental health support.

“I think it’s a pretty global thing to not be doing OK right now,” says Sarah Aalbers, from the Oxford County branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Recognizing that this a growing need, the CMHA in Oxford County has teamed up with the United Way, also in Oxford County, to create a program to support not just health care workers but front-line workers in all sectors.

“These people are working in the midst of anxiety and panic and stress, even a little bit of chaos and that’s quite a shift for people,” says Aalbers

The United Way in Oxford County, which has helped fund the program, has in the past several months put forth half-a-million dollars to fund COVID-19-related initiatives

“Not only are people experiencing the stress and anxiety and concern because they are going to work everyday, especially in those front-line and health care environments, but they are all going home to the stress, anxiety and concerns in their homes,” says Kelly Gilson, executive director of the United Way Oxford.

The 'Supporting our Frontline and Healthcare Heroes’ program through CMHA Oxford, launched earlier this week.

It’s free to anyone in Oxford County who has worked through the pandemic and it’s set to run until it’s no longer needed.

“You can access this in person, you can access this over the phone. You can also access this through virtual means and this is because people have different comfort levels with COVID,” says Aalbers.

The hopes are to be able to provide support and coping mechanisms for those who need them during this difficult and unprecedented time.

“There is stress and anxiety and we all have to find our ways to cope and some have more than others”, says Gilson. “Some have extra help than others so this program is fully accessible and we want people to take advantage of it.”