[Originally published on May 8th for the Constituency Office Newsletter]
It’s Mental Health Week, and it couldn’t be any more timely. The COVID-19 Pandemic has pushed us all out of our comfort zones. Many of our ways of living and the comforts that we rely on have not been available.
Isolation, financial worries, home-schooling, and fear of becoming sick have taken a tremendous toll on every one of us. We are seeing increased anxiety, depression, grief and loss, loneliness, and overall stress in people from all walks of life in our community.
But we have found new ways to connect. We have attended virtual group fitness classes, spent time outdoors with family members, supported local restaurants and businesses by takeout and delivery, and stayed connected with friends and family with technology and at a distance. And our community has risen to the challenge! From volunteering to help our neighbours, to online concerts and the 7’o’clock cheers throughout New Westminster – we are here for each other.
Our provincial government has also focused on making sure mental health supports are available for everyone. As BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, I’m proud to say that we are working flat out to make sure people can find the support they need.
Whatever you are feeling right now - please remember you are not alone. And physical distancing does not have to mean social isolation.
Honourable Judy Darcy
MLA – New Westminster
The BC Government is providing $5 million to expand existing mental health programs and services and launch new virtual services to support British Columbians of all ages during the COVID-19 pandemic – with a focus on adults, youth and front-line health-care workers.
All resources listed below can be found by clicking on “health care and mental health” online: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19
Virtual mental health supports for everyone:
BounceBack – Expanding access to free online, video and phone-based coaching and skills-building program for seniors, adults and youth who are experiencing low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress or worry.
www.cmha.bc.ca/covid-19 (Canadian Mental Health Association – BC)
Virtual counselling services – Expanding access to virtual community counselling for individuals or groups at low or no cost. A list of community counselling agencies offering virtual support is online. Services available in many languages. www.cmha.bc.ca/covid-19
Peer support and system navigation – Expanding access to virtual mentoring and supports by increasing the number of peer support and system navigation workers.
Living Life to the Full – Access to free virtual peer support and practical skills courses for coping with stress, problem solving and boosting mood. The eight-week course is led by a trained facilitator. www.cmha.bc.ca/covid-19
B.C. COVID-19 mental health self-assessment tool – Launched a mental health self-screening test alongside the COVID-19 self-assessment tool. www.cmha.bc.ca/covid-19
Free online mental health first aid – New online supports for front-line health-care workers and all British Columbians to help them cope with any psychological effects they may be experiencing. (BC Psychological Association). https://www.psychologists.bc.ca/covid-19-resources
Virtual support for front-line health-care workers:
Mobile Response Team (MRT) – The MRT will support the mental well-being and psychological safety of front-line health-care workers, specifically home-care and long-term care workers. Available 24/7. Call 1 888 686-3022 or email: MRT@phsa.ca
Free online mental health first aid – New online supports for front-line health-care workers to help them cope with any psychological effects they may be experiencing. (BC Psychological Association).
Online resource hub – Expanding online resources to include information to improve psychological and social supports and provide strategies to help front-line workers take care of their mental health and well-being. (Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division). www.cmha.bc.ca/covid-19
Virtual mental health supports for youth:
Foundry Virtual Clinic – Nine existing virtual Foundry centres are now accepting virtual walk-in counselling. A new provincewide youth-focused virtual clinic with counselling, peer support, primary care and family support for young people aged 12 to 24 and their families is available via voice, video and chat.
Here2Talk – For the first time, B.C. students in post-secondary education has access to 24/7 mental-health services. Students can speak to a counsellor by phone, toll-free at 1 877 857-3397 or direct 604 642-5212. Students calling from outside Canada can dial 1 604 642-5212 (international calling charges may apply).
Virtual mental health supports for seniors:
BC211 – The Province has expanded bc211, a provincewide information and referral service, to match seniors with volunteers and enlist volunteers to help seniors in their community with basic needs, including grocery shopping and pharmacy drop-offs and check-ins. Dial 211 or visit: http://www.bc211.ca/
Virtual Mental Health Supports for Indigenous Peoples
Mental Health and Cultural Supports – Many phone and online counselling, support programs, and treatment and healing centres are available virtually for Indigenous people across B.C.
Find the mental health and cultural supports you need
First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day – Virtual appointments and access to primary and mental health care closer to home. This program is for First Nations and their family members who have limited or no access to their own doctors.
Book an appointment through the First Nations Health Authority
Virtual mental health supports for victims of family or sexual violence:
VictimLink BC – Immediate 24/7 crisis support for victims of family or sexual violence is available by phone through VictimLink BC’s 24/7 telephone service. Available now. For more information, call 1 800 563-0808 or email: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca