Virtual counselling necessary for Langley during COVID crisis: LCSS

Virtual counselling necessary for Langley during COVID crisis: LCSS

Local case workers are offering help to those facing mental health struggles

The isolation, loneliness, and health-related anxiety that the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it are hitting some Langley residents hard.

That’s why Langley Community Services Society (LCSS) has launched a new effort to offer support and counselling to people via phone and video chat.

“Our agency has seen a need,” said Sanjeev Nand, executive director of LCSS.

People have seen changes in lifestyles, in relationships, and domestic violence is up, according to some measures by as much as 300 per cent.

Things that already put people under stress were exacerbated by the physical distancing and lack of contact due to COVID-19, noted Jack Miller, program director for the counselling program.

He said people already struggling can be pushed further. Someone dealing with alcoholism and depression might also become prey to suicidal thoughts, Miller noted.

The counselling program is run by two therapists, including Miller, and a team of interns and case management staff at the LCSS. It’s 15 people in total, all of whom already have full case loads, Miller said.

But they wanted to help the community, so they have added the therapy program to their workload.

It took about two weeks to launch the project, and LCSS has notified local health authorities and the Langley School District that they were there for those who needed them.

So far, they’ve handled a couple of dozen calls, Miller said.

Typically, the calls are not part of an ongoing structured therapy session. People need some immediate help and call to connect with one of the LCSS staffers. The idea is to let the community reach out as needed, Miller said.

They can also connect via video services, with about 40 per cent of the callers so far opting for video.

“Anytime we can see the client, whether video or in person, is an added bonus,” said Miller.

The clients have included people who have been aided by LCSS in the past, or newcomers to the society who may have never received mental health counselling before in their lives.

One commonality among early callers is that they have often lost a loved one recently, resulting in increased loneliness during a stressful time, Miller said.

If the numbers of people calling in jump, Nand said LCSS will look to expand the program. That could mean seeking support of community donors, or from Fraser Health or the provincial government.

To reach out for assistance, contact LCSS between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 604-534-7921.

The LCSS receptionist or voice mail will record your name and phone number, and staff will respond as soon as possible.

Anyone in immediate crisis is asked to call the Fraser Health Crisis Line at 1-877-820-7444.

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