VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Calls to crisis lines in B.C. have reached an all-time high during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental health supports, old and new, are responding to many calls for help.
The numbers are staggering but not surprising. According to the province, calls to B.C.’s 1800SUICIDE line were up 76 per cent this April compared to the same month last year.
That’s the highest number of calls in a month.
April also saw a record number of calls to the 310MHSupport line, up nearly 40 per cent more that month over the same month in 2019.
Meanwhile, referrals to Bounce Back — a virtual mental health program — doubled over last year.
Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy says the crisis is real and that’s why they bolstered programs, as well as put new ones in place.
“We are building stronger and more robust mental health supports for people so that we treat mental health issues as health issues because which is exactly what they are,” she said.
“Literally within three weeks of when the pandemic was declared we stood up those virtual mental health services and they have had thousands and thousands and thousands of people reach out to them.”
In additon to phone and online support, Darcy said other professionals are rising to need.
“B.C. Psychologist Association stepped up and said people would have access – free access – to registered psychologists during the pandemic.”
New programs include a mental health assessment tool that Darcy says 2,500 have used since it launched in April. The care for caregivers site has had 10,000 visits
Elizabeth Newcombe, executive director of Vancouver Island Crisis Society, tells people not to hesitate picking up the phone.
“We encourage hospitals, even support staff, people working, police officers, frontline workers when they’re overwhelmed to pick up the crisis line and just debrief for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and let their day go.”
“It’s a permanent solution to what they are feeling in that moment, and if someone can be there for them and if it’s the crisis line in that moment, so be it. We definitely save lives.”
Help is always available. If you need to talk to someone, you can call 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) from anywhere in B.C., any time of day or week.
You can also reach the Mental Health Support line by dialling 310-6789.