WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government has launched a new online program aimed at helping Manitobans address anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Friday morning news conference, Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced a $4.5 million initiative to launch an online therapy program to help Manitobans dealing with anxiety.

“Most of us have never experienced anything like this,” Friesen told reporters. “This is sustained and significant intrusions into the way that we live our lives normally every single day. People are worried.”

The news comes following reports the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM) has reported an increase in calls in recent days.

The province is partnering with Morneau Shepell to launch the program, which will start in the next two weeks. It will be available here. 

The program, guided by professional therapists, will help address anxiety symptoms related to the pandemic. It doesn’t require a referral from a doctor to sign up.

“We want to support you, and we want to support you while you are self-isolating,” Friesen told reporters.

The service will be available for those 16 and over, in English and French.

Pallister, who opened the news conference speaking about his own mental health challenges, said he wants Manitobans to reach out if they’re struggling.

“Remember, you’re not alone,” he said.