Sixty per cent of older adults see negative impact on mental health due to COVID-19, according to YMCA of Greater Toronto survey

17 January 2022

Toronto - January 17, 2022 – In late 2020, the YMCA of Greater Toronto received a $149,100 Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to help with staffing and administrative costs needed to support its online community for older adults, The Bright Spot. The online community was established during the pandemic and delivers various programs from virtual travelling to exercise and language classes. The Resilient Communities Fund grant programs was developed by OTF to help non-profits rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

72% of millennial respondents said their mental health has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am incredibly grateful for the work that the YMCA of Greater Toronto does for our community of Toronto-St. Paul's, and during this pandemic they have stepped up once again,” said Jill Andrew, MPP. “Their creativity and resolve in the face of COVID-19 has helped them adapt programming and continue to deliver vital services. I am proud to congratulate them on their success with The Bright Spot, an innovative program to support seniors during uncertain times. We know aging adults have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Now more than ever we need our charities and not-for-profit organizations fully supported, and their tireless work amplified. I thank the team at Ontario Trillium Foundation for recognizing the value of this project and for providing financial support to help bring it to life,” added MPP Andrew.

According to a survey commissioned by the YMCA of Greater Toronto in fall 2021, sixty per cent have seen a negative impact on their mental health due to COVID-19. Many older adults were already isolated prior to the pandemic and the grant helps them connect virtually as that isolation was exacerbated by the pandemic.

The Bright Spot was introduced in May 2020 to give older adults opportunities to meet new people, exercise, and try new activities from the comfort and safety of their own home. As an ongoing supportive online platform for older adults, the Bright Spot has offered over 1,000 hours of programming to close to 2,000 connections through a variety of live classes and activities like yoga, virtual travelling, dancing, and trivia. The website even includes a LiveChat feature to help people navigate the site and speak to someone about how the Y can help.

“The Bright Spot has been one of several successful programs we’ve introduced since the onset of COVID-19 and aligns with plans we already had to support the well-being of older adults,” said Medhat Mahdy, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Toronto. “With the help of donors like the Ontario Trillium Foundation, we are able to offer new programs to help people shine and reignite the potential in our community.”

To mark Blue Monday, the Y is excited to launch a Mental Health and Wellbeing in Later Life series, a new program on The Bright Spot, to help combat feelings of isolation found in the older adult community. In partnership with the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC), the 12-week series will offer members weekly content and weekly Y wellness check-ins to ensure all members are keeping mental health top of mind. The series will follow 12 workshops developed by the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Provincial System Support Program (PSSP). The series includes courses about understanding mental health and well-being, finding a balance, breaking the cycle of worry, and creating healthy habits. Spaces are limited.

“I can’t say enough good things on the insight The Bright Spot has provided through its courses,” said Kathy Wakeham, one of The Bright Spot participants. “The Bright Spot continues to provide us with a golden opportunity to care for ourselves in a safe and supportive environment.”

For more information on The Bright Spot and to sign up for free virtual programs visit:

About the YMCA of Greater Toronto

The YMCA of Greater Toronto is a charity that ignites the potential in people, helping them grow, lead and give back to their communities. For over 170 years, the YMCA of Greater Toronto has provided opportunities for people to shine through a variety of programs and services including health and fitness, licensed child care, camps, employment and immigrant services, education and training, and services for youth, families and seniors. Promoting equity and boosting well-being across more than 400 locations in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), we are a leading charity that helps everyone shine, including our most vulnerable community members. For more information visit

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Visit to learn more.