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B.C. Government Expands Mental Health Support Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Provincial Government is providing $5 million to expand existing mental health programs and provide new services to help ensure B.C. residents have access to mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If you are feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or disconnected because of COVID-19, I want you to know that you are not alone,” said Premier John Horgan. “Our government is working to give you more options for mental health support as we all stay home to prevent the spread of this virus.”

British Columbians will have access to enhanced virtual counselling services to help with issues that may arise from the public health crisis. Funding will also be used to expand access for Indigenous communities and those living in rural and remote areas in B.C.

“I have heard from people right across B.C. about how this pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Whether longstanding challenges are flaring up or you’re struggling with your mental health for the first time – we’re here for you. We’re working quickly to expand virtual mental health services to ensure that when you reach out for support, someone will be there to help.”

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The Province said that it is working with Foundry Youth Centres, the BC Psychological Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association-BC Division (CMHA-BC) and other community organizations to deliver new mental health services.

New mental health services offered across B.C. include:

  •  More access to online programs for mental health by expanding the BounceBack program. BounceBack provides online coaching and the Living Life to the Full program, which helps people deal with life challenges and learn self-management skills (CMHA-BC).
  • Expanding access to no- and low-cost community counselling programs, including those that serve immigrant and refugee populations, and enabling them to be delivered virtually.
  • Increasing access to online peer support and system navigation (CMHA-BC).
  • Providing virtual supports for youth aged 12 to 24 by making Foundry services available around the province through voice, video and chat (FoundryBC).
  • Providing more online tools and resources to help people assess and manage their own mental health.
  • Supporting front-line health-care workers through a new online hub and providing virtual peer support (CMHA-BC).
  • A new online psychological support service for health-care workers (BC Psychological Association).

The B.C. Government said that it is also using the funding to expand existing programs while it implements new ones, which are expected to become available by April 20th.

The virtual mental health support will be available in multiple languages and be available to those living in remote communities and Indigenous people through the province. The Provincial Government added that it will work with Indigenous partners to ensure that services are culturally responsive to the needs of Indigenous people living in rural and urban areas.

More: Candian Mental Health Association – BC Division

More: Virtual mental health support for youth (Foundry BC)

More: Virtual mental health Support for seniors (BC211)

More: Mental health support for front-line workers (BC Psychological Association)

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