Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean (Black Press Media file photo)

LETTER: Virtual mental health support available during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging on many levels. For some people, it’s meant a disruption in their daily routine and social life, and for others it’s meant the loss of a job. Children and youth are missing the friends and activities they love. And sadly, some families are grieving the loss of a loved one.

This year more than ever, Mental Health Week is a vital reminder that it’s OK to not feel OK. If you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, you are not alone, and help is available. Our government is making sure all British Columbians can access mental health supports during the pandemic, with a $5 million investment to expand these services.

Visit gov.bc.ca/COVID19 and look for “Health and Mental Health” to find options for free virtual counselling and ways to manage stress, anxiety and depression. There are also dedicated supports for youth, parents, seniors, students, health care workers and Indigenous people.

Here in Greater Victoria, Peers Victoria Resources Society has received increased funding to expand clinical counselling services for people engaged in or exiting sex work. Vancouver Island Counselling for Immigrants and Refugees (VICCIR) has received enhanced funding for ongoing counselling and support for an increased number of refugees and immigrants.

There are many local organizations across the province who have gone digital to serve people during this pandemic. Pacific Centre Family Service Association (PCFSA) has received increased funding to employ more staff and upgrade technology to deliver more support virtually. They are also the email service provider for Youthspace, an emotional and crisis support chat that assists young people in our community.

Youth age 12-24 in our area benefit from Foundry Victoria, which provides mental health, primary care and substance use services, and is offering support via phone and video chat during COVID-19.

Your mental health matters. If you need help, please reach out.

Mitzi Dean

MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin

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