By Chelsea Carter with Stacy Ashton
As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the physical health of people around the globe, we face an ongoing mental health crisis.
During this ever-changing and uncertain time, people are facing unforeseen financial and social stresses due to sudden job loss, fear of illness, and the pressures of self-isolation, amongst other factors. This has led to increased demand for the Crisis Centre of BC services, which provides a place for people to talk about what they are experiencing, and identify ways to manage in the days and weeks ahead.
Your donation keeps us going. Help us stay focused on responding to the demands on our life-saving service and increasing virtual programming to provide essential coping skills for youth and adults.
Stacy Ashton, the Executive Director of the Crisis Centre of BC, answered a few questions about the Centre and what we’re doing during this crisis.
Why is the Crisis Centre of BC essential during this time?
“We are currently in an unprecedented situation. People are naturally feeling anxious, stressed and uncertain about their future, and it is easy to get overwhelmed.
We are able to provide 24/hour support to individuals who find themselves having to cope with what is happening in the world. Fear and anxiety are real; isolation, disconnectedness, and not knowing what is going to happen next are real.
By offering non-judgemental support through our phone lines and chat services we are able to help people get through the overwhelming moments.
We are also providing special programming in suicide prevention and mindfulness to support adults and youth with tools to deal with stress and anxiety. These are integral services that keep our community safe by providing support in times of crisis, and the tools to deal with our uncertain times with hope and resiliency.”
How has the current health crisis impacted the Crisis Centre’s work?
“We have seen the largest impact on our crisis lines. We’ve seen a 25% increase in calls. And while the themes of these calls are still similar to before – relationship difficulties, job stress, poverty, loneliness, depression – COVID-19 makes these problems more intense.
At the same time as calls are increasing, fewer call responders are able to come in. A third of our volunteers are in quarantine, as even the mildest cold or flu symptoms keep people home, and many volunteers live with immuno-comprimised loved ones. We’ve also instituted a limit on how many responders can physically be in our call room at once in order to protect the safety of our staff and volunteers. In response, we have temporarily increased the number of hours our paid responders work and are looking at ways of opening up remote call-taking capabilities so that people can take calls from home.
We have also had to change how we provide programming. Since providing in-person training sessions isn’t currently possible we’ve developed special online programming and look at new ways of reaching out to people remotely.”
How will donations help the Crisis Centre of BC?
“When you make a donation, you are helping us answer every call and chat.
Your donations help us develop and introduce remote call-taking capabilities that could enable us to have more people working from the safety of their homes.
You help us increase the number of paid responders we have on the crisis lines at a time when, due to self-isolation and physical distancing, we have seen a drop in volunteers being able to take shifts.
You help us provide virtual programming during these exceptional times.
You help us provide hope and save lives.”