Friendly Callers reaches out to isolated seniors

Older woman sitting in her garden outside

Since the start of the pandemic, the Canadian Mental Health Association has seen a 43 percent increase in calls to The Support Line, many coming from seniors who are feeling scared, vulnerable, lonely and isolated.

“It was an issue even before the pandemic,” says Lori Hassall, Director of Crisis and Short-term Interventions at Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex. “We were already getting a lot of calls from seniors who don’t have supports in the community. Some folks would call every day just to talk to a person.”

“There’s so much research now about the impact of loneliness on physical and mental health. Social connection is the antidote to that.“

Lori Hassall, Director of Crisis and Short-term Interventions at Canadian Mental Health Association Middlesex

Thanks to a grant from United Way Elgin Middlesex made possible by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program, CMHA launched Friendly Callers, a new outreach program that matches volunteers with seniors for a weekly check-in. The program is available across Elgin and Middlesex counties.

The regular call is a chance to check in with seniors, chat and give social support. But it’s also a chance for volunteers to connect seniors to local services like Meals on Wheels, the closest neighbourhood resource centre, or the City of London Age Friendly Network to ensure they’re getting the supports they need.

“There’s so much research now about the impact of loneliness on physical and mental health,” Hassall says. “Social connection is the antidote to that.“

Seniors who might benefit from the Friendly Callers program are being identified in partnership with the Geriatric Mental Health program at London Health Sciences Centre. CMHA is also reaching out to long-term care, retirement homes and other organizations and community groups that support seniors. Individuals are also welcome to self-refer.

Get connected to Friendly Callers

If you, your parents, your neighbours, or any senior you know would like to participate in this program, call CMHA at 519-434-9191 ext. 2223 or email iabs.intake@cmhamiddlesex.ca Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

COVID-19 help for seniors 55+
St. Thomas & Elgin
EN | FR

COVID-19 help for seniors 55+
London & Middlesex
EN | FR