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Media advisory
Aug. 24, 2021

Mental health and addiction physicians discuss impacts of COVID-19

TORONTO, Aug. 24, 2021--The Ontario Medical Association will hold a virtual panel discussion on Wednesday on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on mental health and addictions. Media are invited to attend.

Ontario physicians with expertise in these areas will discuss the effects on young children and returning to school, the rise in eating disorders, substance use and mental health concerns specific to seniors, ethnic minority and Indigenous communities, and other aspects of the looming mental health tsunami.

We know from an OMA analysis of OHIP data that Ontarians sought more mental health care for issues other than substance abuse during the pandemic than before. A new study found that more than one-third of those diagnosed with COVID-19 may develop a mental illness. A recent Canadian Institutes of Health Research report found a 40-per-cent spike in opioid-related deaths in Ontario in 2020.


Wednesday, Aug. 25 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Media are invited to listen to the panel discussion and take part in a Q&A session.


Please register for the panel discussion. Contact to arrange an interview.



Valerie Pringle

  • Pringle, one of Canada’s best-known broadcasters, is chair of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation Board of Directors. As the mother of a daughter who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, Pringle has a personal stake in bringing awareness to mental health issues.


Dr. Sarita Verma

  • The dean, president and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine will speak about the impact the pandemic had on the mental health of northern and remote communities and First Nations.

Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos

  • The physician-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will speak about addiction and substance use and abuse.

Dr. Robbie Campbell

  • A psychiatrist in London, Ont., and founding member of the Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada will discuss different types of eating disorders, difficulty in treating them and need for more education and awareness.

Dr. Sharon Burey

  • A behavioural pediatrician in Tecumseh, Ont., who will speak about child and youth mental health, including the importance of in-person learning at schools.

Dr. Hugh Boyd

  • A long-term care physician in Guelph, Ont., and chair of the OMA Section on Long-Term Care/Care of the Elderly, who will speak about the impact of COVID on seniors.

Dr. Yusra Ahmad

  • A Toronto psychiatrist and founder of Mindfully Muslim, an Islamic mindfulness group therapy program, who will speak about gender violence and racialization. 

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.

For more information, please contact: OMA Media Relations at