Government funding to help CMHA provide on-line services

Mental health goes virtual

Dale Cory

“I think all of us are struggling right now with anxiety and depression and are under extraordinary stress during this pandemic,” stated Canadian Mental Health Association South Okanagan Similkameen executive director Leah Schulting Thursday. 

People have lost their job, and maybe their home as well. People are struggling during the COVID-19 crisis.

But there is help.

At Unity House, staff are standing by to connect those in need with the services they require.

“There are some services that CMHA can provide to people during this crisis,” added Schulting. “We have a virtual workshop that’s being offered through the Summerland recreation department designed to help you cope during a crisis. That’s on April 16th and is open to anyone. We also have a mental health advocate who is still working. She has pivoted her support services to offer telephone support.”

The BC government committed $5 million Thursday to expand existing mental health programs and launch new services. Some of that money will go to enhancing virtual services.

“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.”

In Penticton, the CMHA has already begun the transition to virtual programming.

“Here in Penticton we have transitioned some of our programs to online or virtual support,” said Schulting. “Our mental health clubhouse, Unity House, continues to provide healthy, nutritious take-out meals and medication support for our clubhouse members. And, we have transitioned our mental health advocate to telephone support five days per week.”

The funding will also increase access for Indigenous communities and those living in rural and remote parts of the province. It will provide more options for people living with mental health challenges who are currently unable to access in-person supports.

“I have heard from people right across B.C. about how this pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. “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.”

The Province is working in partnership with Foundry Youth Centres, the Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division, the BC Psychological Association and other community partners to deliver new and expanded mental health services.

One of the programs the CMHA provides is BounceBack.

“The Bounceback program has been expanded, and now allows people to self-register,” said Schulting. “This is a proven program that helps people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression, and is available over the telephone or online.”

“Canadian Mental Health Association is proud to play an important part in supporting people's mental health, wellbeing and resilience during this extraordinary time," added Schulting. "We must all work together to reduce the long term mental health impact of this pandemic. Through funding from the Province of British Columbia, CMHA will be able to expand services and supports for people in our community. 

For more information on the CMHA South Okanagan Similkameen branch, click here.



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