B.C. spend­ing $5 mil­lion on men­tal health ser­vices

Money used to en­hance vir­tual ser­vices that can help peo­ple through pan­demic

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - SCOTT BROWN sbrown@post­media.com twit­ter.com/ brown­i­escott

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.

ARLEN REDEKOP/ FILES

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.

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