Michael Tibollo is the provincial minister responsible for mental health, and he's offering suggestions on how you can help during the pandemic.

"It's great to drop off a newspaper, to knock on a door and check on a neighbour if they need supplies -- so they don't have to run out to the grocery store -- those are the kinds things, the acts of kindness that make a difference in a person's spirit," he said Friday.

Tibollo adds Queen's Park is spending an additional $12 million for resources to help people through the coronavirus outbreak. This is in addition to close to $4 billion over the next 10 years on the province's estimated 600 agencies. 

A week before the public health measures caused delays, the provincial government started to implement reforms announced earlier this year. They included plans to close the gaps in service, while providing better access to culturally-appropriate programs, the minister continued.

"You can't be healthy, if you don't have good mental health," he added, coining a phrase.

In some ways, Tibollo said the pandemic has accelerated improvements to communications within the provincial system. In-person counselling was still allowed under the public health restrictions, and virtual counselling has been added.

Still, the minister emphasized a person in need of mental health shouldn't be stigmatized, especially during these unprecedented times. He says land-based healing initiatives are good for the soul for all people. 

"You know, if you have hobby, get back into the hobby. If there's something you wanted to read or learn about, do it now. The opportunity's there. It maintains the connections, because those are extremely important," he emphasized.

According to his biography, the minister is currently pursuing his PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California, and he's worked and advocated for a residential treatment program for those suffering from addictions or mental illness.  

Since being elected in 2018, Tibollo has also served as the minister responsible for corrections and tourism. 

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