BARRIE, ONT. -- Jan. 28 marks the 11th annual Bell Let's Talk day — an initiative to raise funds for mental initiatives and increase awareness and reduce the stigma around depression, anxiety, or other illnesses.

Now more than ever, millions of Canadians are struggling to cope mentally with the 'new normal' brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Mental Health Research Canada, Canadians report their highest levels of anxiety and depression since the pandemic began.

Rev. Dr. Glenn Robitaille, Director of Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program at North Simcoe/Muskoka, says there has been a spike in the number of calls from people seeking support.

Robitaille says starting a conversation is one of the most important steps towards the road to recovery.

"One in three Canadians will experience a mental health crisis in their lifetime, so it's something that we do need to talk [about]. Often people will not talk about it because they feel it is going to cost them some equity with others, and the answer to reducing stigma is increasing awareness," Robitaille said.

Child and youth psychiatrist Dr. Kim Fielding says parents should watch for unusual behaviour in their kids if they suspect they may be dealing with a mental health issue.

"If you start to notice a drastic change from their baseline, they're not able to laugh or smile. There may be a sign that things are starting to get more serious," Fielding said.

She recommends going back to the basics when you start to feel overwhelmed.

"Just getting outside for a walk, playing a board game, doing a family meal together. We have time now to do these things, so I think it is an opportunity to get connected with the members of our household and unplug for a bit," she said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there are several different resources across Simcoe Muskoka, including: