Men, women, children in the Southern Interior experiencing high stress during pandemic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Men, women, children in the Southern Interior experiencing high stress during pandemic

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November 29, 2020 - 1:27 PM

As the world continues to deal with the second wave of the pandemic, more Thompson Okanagan residents are experiencing a mental health overload.

“What we’re seeing and what we’re hearing when we have the calls for service is people are struggling, and of course they are. (The second wave is here) and it’s coming at a time where we are wanting to prepare for the holiday season and now the holiday season is going to look different than what many of us wanted it to and hoped,” said Jessica Samuels, communications and events manager with Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna.

“It’s also the longevity of this, too."

With stress and anxiety levels higher than normal, more people have been calling CMHA to inquire about services.

READ MORE: Okanagan-created app designed for men to connect on mental health issues

“More individuals are in crisis so we are navigating them to the suicide support lines and connecting them with doctors and other services as needed,” she said.

More youths are experiencing anxiety at Foundry Kelowna, with the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end.

The uncertainty around jobs, rent, having enough food during this time, are all contributing to the heightened levels of stress experienced by residents, she said.

The pandemic has exacerbated the issues that are already present in the community, she said. 

CMHA has been offering virtual counselling, and earlier in the pandemic there wasn’t a lot of uptake. As of October, counselling sessions are completely full, and booking a week ahead, Samuels said.

“Our counsellor is actually seeing a significant number of individuals coming back for that extra service, so what that tells us is people need help on this cascading effect of COVID-19.”

READ MORE: Anchorage to fund a new team of mental health first responders

CMHA started seeing an uptick in calls and the intensity of the calls both in October and during the first wave of the pandemic, with a brief relaxation of calls in the summer months.

Alyssa Christmas, program manager of the Vernon Interior Crisis Line Network said, via email, all Interior networks have seen a 26 per cent increase in calls for the first half of the fiscal year (60 per cent at the Vernon site) and a 40 per cent increase in acute mental health related calls.

The online chat service is available throughout the Interior Health region and can be accessed from 5-9 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. The crisis line can be reached at any time of the day at 1-888-353-2273.


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