WINDSOR, ONT. -- In its first month of opening, the new Mental Health and Addictions Urgent Care Centre had 74 visits, mostly from people seeking help with issues surrounding anxiety, depression and addiction.

The joint initiative by the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County Branch (CMHA WECB) and Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) opened April 16 for those struggling with mental health and additions related issues to access quick care during the pandemic.

"What we have found is that in over half of the visits, the clients' serviced indicated they would have gone to the emergency department for issues that were instead treated by the team at the MHAUCC," Claudia den Boer, executive lead of community mental health with HDGH and CEO of CMHA WECB, said in a news release.

"The MHAUCC has been a good example of creating system efficiencies through client-centred approach by providing the appropriate care in the appropriate setting especially during a time in history where there is heightened anxiety and fear."

Sixty-five per cent of visits were related to anxiety, 46 per cent depression, and 26 per cent substance use.

"Working at the MHAUCC has opened my eyes as to how many people are struggling greatly during this unprecedented time," said Jennifer Forfitt, a mental health clinician working at the MHAUCC.

"This service has allowed for people to access timely mental health and addiction urgent care services thus alieving pressure on the emergency department where appropriate. It is important for people to remember that we are all dealing with difficult times and that reaching out for support is nothing to be ashamed of."

The centre opened as a three-month demonstration project and to help alleviate pressures in acute care emergency departments.

The social workers, addiction counsellor, psychiatrists, physicians and nurse practitioner that make up the team at the centre received 74 visits from 64 people in its first month.

Those seeking help have varied in ages from 18 to 71, 46 per cent female, 53 per cent male, and one per cent other.

“Eighty-five percent of the visits to the centre received social work services, 41 per cent received a consult from a psychiatrist, 21 per cent received addiction services and 19 per cent of visits received primary care through CMHA WECB Health Centre co-located in the building,” the release states.

The MHAUCC will continue to offer services until at least the end of summer. Health officials with both organizations are reminding the public to seek emergency care if they need it especially if cardiac related.

"We are definitely seeing a degree of COVID-phobia with individual fear in seeking health care," said den Boer. "If you require immediate or emergency medical attention, please do not ignore your signs and symptoms and visit the local emergency department."

The MHAUCC is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. People are able to walk-in during hours of operations or call 519-257-5111 ext.77968.