By Chelsea Carter with Lu Ripley, Director of Community Learning and Engagement
In a moment’s notice, a new “normal” was created as British Columbia responded to COVID-19. Schools and offices closed, shops were no longer taking customers, and playgrounds were taped off. In the midst of it, support service providers were suddenly faced with the dual challenge of shifting to remote work while also meeting a growing need for their services by developing remote-access programming.
“People have had to suddenly change everything in their work and personal lives. They just need something to help manage the stress; they’re just spiralling,” says Lu Ripley, Director of Community Learning and Engagement.
In response, the Crisis Centre began offering free online mindfulness programming for youth and adults. The goal was to provide the support people could easily tap into that would give them the tools to deal with stress and uncertainty in a healthy manner. The feedback was phenomenal, with 300 adults registering for the mindfulness programs and nearly 100 registering for the youth mindfulness program.
Due to the sudden unknowns, financial and social strain that COVID-19 placed on people, suicidal thoughts were rising. Employers found themselves searching for support as they responded to the challenge of keeping their businesses afloat whilst seeing the impact that diminished hours, lost positions and remote working had on their workforce.
In response, the Crisis Centre worked with partner LivingWorks to provide online Suicide Prevention Training and Skillfully Responding to Distress courses. These courses provided practical information that could be used to prevent and respond to suicide at home or in the workplace. Though they are not as intensive as the two-day in-person training, they have proven invaluable to providing essential services under current conditions.