B.C. spending $5 million on mental health services
Money used to enhance virtual services that can help people through pandemic
The B.C. government announced it will spend an additional $5 million to expand existing mental health programs and services and launch new services to support British Columbians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money is being directed toward enhanced virtual services to assist with mental health needs arising from the health crisis, with a focus on adults, youth and frontline health-care workers.
“If you are feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or disconnected because of COVID-19, I want you to know that you are not alone,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said Thursday. “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.”
The province is expanding its Bounce Back program, a free virtual health skill-building program that helps people experiencing mild to moderate depression or anxiety, and launching an online youth clinic through Foundrybc, a program that offers health and wellness support to people aged 12 to 24.
The programs will be accessible without a doctor’s reference.
“People have different mental health journeys just as they have different physical health needs. So there are programs that deal with mild to moderate anxiety and depression. There are programs for kids, for parents. And very importantly there are programs for seniors and very importantly, there are programs for front-line health care workers,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’S Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.
The government is also expanding its 24-hour phone-based peer support network for front-line health-care workers.
Mobile Response Team, which was set up to support workers on the front lines of the overdose crisis, will now also support the mental well-being and psychological safety of front-line health-care workers, specifically homecare and long-term care workers, who are experiencing exponential distress and mental health concerns in response to COVID-19.
Health-care workers are also being provided access to online assistance from representatives from the B.C. Psychological Association.
“Bounce Back, a program that the Canadian Mental Health Association of B.C. puts on, has reached thousands of people across the province. Now they’re going virtual and they have beefed up their team of counsellors who are at the end of the phone. The B.C. Psychological Association has stepped up to be there to support front-line health-care workers,” said Darcy. “We just encourage people who are feeling stress, anxiety or depression, to go to the government of B.C. website for COVID-19, and there is a new link there for mental health where you can find all of the services.”
Darcy said all services are being provided at low or no cost.
Minister of Mental Health Judy Darcy says front-line health-care workers and seniors are especially vulnerable to mental health difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.