COVID-19 is taking a toll on mental health through social isolation, among other things. (Pixabay)

COVID-19 is taking a toll on mental health through social isolation, among other things. (Pixabay)

Free mental health resource for British Columbians launches amid COVID-19

Psychological first aid service offers telephone calls to any BC resident over the age of 19

All British Columbians now have access to free, psychological first-aid thanks to a collaboration between UBC Okanagan, the BC Psychological Association, and the province.

The service, originally launched for front-line health care workers in early April, will now provide telephone-based support to any BC resident experiencing stress, anxiety or uncertainty related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’re expanding this service based on extreme need,” says Lesley Lutes, professor of psychology at UBC Okanagan and registered psychologist. “Every person is being affected by COVID-19, and they deserve access to care.”

Residents seeking assistance can access the service by filling out a short online form on the BCPA website or by calling 604-827-0847. They will then be contacted from one of 200 volunteer registered psychologists within 24 to 48 hours.

Once submitted, they will receive a call from one of 200 volunteer registered psychologists within 24 to 48 hours.

Considered best practice in times of crisis, psychological first-aid is a brief, up to 30-minute, telephone consultation designed to provide information and strategies to help people cope with mental health struggles related to traumatic events.

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Lutes points to research following the SARS epidemic in 2003 to demonstrate the mental distress that health emergencies can cause.

“The study found those who experienced quarantine were at a high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” explains Lutes. “What’s even more concerning, is that the longer the quarantine, the higher the risk of PTSD.”

Lutes stresses that by offering services like psychological first-aid early on, the risk of PTSD and other mental health impacts can be reduced.

For more information and to register for psychological first-aid, visit the BCPA website or call 604-827-0847.

For localized mental health services in Langley, people can visit www.fraserhealth.ca or call 604-514-7940.

The resource centre located at 20300 Fraser Hwy offers “assessment, treatment, individual and group therapy, referrals to supportive housing, residential programs and community support services, transition of care between services, older adult programs, crisis intervention and peer support.”

For immediate support, people can call;

  • Suicide crisis: 1 800 SUICIDE (1 800 784-­2433)
  • Mental health issue: 310-­6789 (24 hours)
  • KUU-US Aboriginal crisis line: 1 800-588-8717 (24 hours)
  • Medical emergency: 911

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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