More people seeking mental support during COVID crisis

Crisis calls up 20 per cent

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, more people are reaching out for help.

Calls to the Interior Crisis Line Network have increased substantially over the last few weeks.

Officials are reporting a 20 per cent jump in the week after the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.

And during the last two weeks of March, 25 per cent of calls were directly related to COVID-19.

“It is reassuring that people are reaching out to us,” said Julia Payson, executive director for Canadian Mental Health Association's Vernon branch.

“It shows our efforts at fighting mental health stigma are working, as people feel more comfortable reaching out to talk about their mental health. It also shows the immense need for mental health support in our community.”

With no end in sight for the the pandemic, CMHA expects calls to increase further.

On March 18, the Vernon Crisis Line began tracking COVID-related calls, and now receives calls every day from community members needing emotional support, information and resources associated with concerns about the virus.

“Social distancing has taken its toll on many, and we will be here for our community through this difficult time,” said Payson. “In addition to the stress of the current health crisis, people’s normal coping mechanisms have been interrupted. It’s critical right now that we continue to connect with each other, even while maintaining physical distance. We can be apart together.”

Between April 2019 and March 2020, the Vernon Crisis Line has responded to more than 7,600 calls.

It continues to operate 24/7 with professionally trained volunteers and support staff. The most recent training was completed using virtual meetings to maintain physical distance while ensuring there were more people available to answer calls.

“We want our community members to know they are not alone. Our crisis line team is amazingly dedicated, continuing to show up shift after shift and keeping positive in the midst of this global pandemic,” said Payson.

The line can be accessed 24/7 by calling 1-888-353-CARE (2273) or by chatting online Thursday-Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. through the chat link.

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