COVID-19: B.C. and Canadian mental-health resources to launch or expand during pandemic

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      While most people are experiencing anxiety or stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals are facing a number of other related issues, including job loss, separation from or loss of loved ones, or pre-existing issues being compounded by the current situation.

      Over the past few weeks, provincial and federal governments have been announcing funding to ensure that people can access mental-health services through remote means during these trying conditions.

      Yesterday (April 15), the federal government launched Wellness Together Canada, a portal devoted to mental health and substance use issues.

      The site includes self-assessment tools, information, and the opportunity to connect with peer support workers, social workers, psychologists, and more for chat sessions or phone calls.

      Today (April 16), the B.C. government announced the launch of a new mental-health counselling and referral service for registered postsecondary students.

      The Here2Talk on-demand service, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, offers free single-session services with trained counsellors by app, phone, or online chat. The service is available in English or French, with other languages available by phone upon request.

      Issues can include loneliness, anxiety, depression, academic performance stress, racism, relationships, and crises.

      Counsellors will be able to refer students to resources in their own communities.

      The service, which the provincial government is funding with $1.5 million per year, was developed based upon ideas and feedback from B.C. students and is operated by Morneau Shepell, which administers the largest clinical network in Canada.

      Previously on April 9, the B.C. government announced $5 million in funding had been allocated for the expansion of existing mental-health programs and services and the launch of new services, including for frontline healthcare workers, Indigenous communities, remote or rural residents, and those who can’t access in-person support.

      The BounceBack program, which provides online coaching, and the Living Life to the Full program, for dealing with life challenges with self-management skills, are being expanded.

      Access to community counselling programs and online peer support is also being increased while more online self-assessment and -management resources will be offered.

      While some of these services are already online, others will be launched online on Monday (April 20).

      Information about these resources can be found in the healthcare and mental-health section of the B.C.’s government’s COVID-19 website as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association’s B.C. website.

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