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B.C. crisis lines see spike in calls as coronavirus pandemic stress mounts

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Calls for help to deal with mental health issues have been going up during the pandemic

While crisis lines have seen a spike, B.C.'s mental health minister says full toll of crisis will be told over time

Province says more than 1,300 people have completed the online mental health assessment

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Calls for mental health help in B.C. are going up as new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are going down.

“We are seeing such a spike in calls to our crisis line, also to the new programs we’ve put in place,” Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy says, adding that includes more than 1,300 people completing the online mental health assessment, and thousands of unique visits to the Care for the Caregiver site for frontline workers.

“It just went up live last week, and it spiked immediately,” she says of the new supports. “Mainly people wanting to connect about issues related to anxiety. It’s especially people on the front lines and especially health care workers whose anxiety levels, of course, are through the roof.”

While it’s clear calls for help are on the rise, the provinces notes the full toll the COVID-19 pandemic is having on British Columbians’ mental health will only be told over time.

Darcy says the future concern is a so-called echo pandemic.

“Sometimes it’s many months later or on the anniversary date of a traumatic event,” she explains. “We’ve seen that around wildfires, we’ve seen that around floods.”

Because so many people are experiencing intense stress right now, Darcy believes society will change and adapt.

“Traditionally, even though it’s changed over the years, mental health still has been regarded as a form of weakness, but everybody is living with these issues right now and I think it’s going to change how we look at mental health in the future,” she says.

Darcy is encouraging people who may be struggling to reach out for help.

You can find provincial supports here.