Stress on B.C. Interior residents is increasing the longer COVID-19 continues - InfoNews

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Stress on B.C. Interior residents is increasing the longer COVID-19 continues

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June 11, 2020 - 6:00 PM

A record number of calls are flooding into the Interior region’s crisis lines and call volumes are expected to increase further even as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Calls to the Interior Crisis Line Network are up 25 per cent from mid-March, when the lockdown started, until the end of May this year versus 2019. But the number of calls in May alone were up 61 per cent. One-fifth (20 per cent) of the callers said COVID-19 was the reason they were phoning.

“When people are experiencing something significant in their lives, sometimes they need additional support and with support being diminished in communities that we traditionally would have had, like being able to physically see friends and family more, being able to go into support groups, etc., the crisis line remains one of the resources that’s accessible and that’s accessible 24/7,” Asha Crogton, program director, told iNFOnews.ca.

“Even though things are beginning to open up in B.C., we are anticipating that we will continue to see increased call volumes as the emotional and economic impact of COVID continues long past the sort of official lockdown is lifted.”

The network serves the 800,000 people in the entire Interior Health region with offices in five locations, including Vernon and Kelowna.

From mid-March to the end of May, its 127 staff and volunteer responders fielded 6,183 calls lasting almost 74,000 minutes in total. That’s up from 4,994 calls for the same time last year. They now average 81 calls a day versus 65 prior to COVID-19.

The calls included increases of 247 per cent in psychosis related calls, 104 per cent in acute mental health calls, 43 per cent in sexual abuse/assault calls and 33 per cent in suicide-in-progress calls.

On the flip side, Crogton said, there was a decrease in relationship conflict calls.

As a result, the network is looking into bringing on more staff and volunteers.

The crisis line number is 1-888-353-2273.

For more on the Interior Crisis Line Network, go here.

READ MORE: Vernon-based Interior Crisis Line seeks volunteers from North Okanagan, Shuswap and Kamloops


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