Crisis Centre B.C. volunteers are answered an influx of callers searching for mental help in January, even after a provincial COVID-19 vaccine strategy was enacted. (Contributed)

Crisis Centre B.C. volunteers are answered an influx of callers searching for mental help in January, even after a provincial COVID-19 vaccine strategy was enacted. (Contributed)

Crisis calls in B.C. still climbing despite hope brought by rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

Crisis Centre B.C. saw a 20 per cent increase in people seeking mental help since outset of pandemic

Crisis Centre B.C. volunteers scrambled to cover 206 incoming calls of people looking for help in January – marking an unusual increase for the first month of the year, but highlighting the continuing impact COVID-19 has had on mental health.

“These numbers are unusual for us, usually we don’t get a huge increase in calls in January,” said director Stacy Ashton. Overall, the centre has seen an 20 per cent increase in calls since the pandemic was declared.

“We’re hearing from callers, ‘When is it gonna be over? Am I going to get my vaccine? What about these new variants?’”

RELATED: B.C. plans for COVID-19 ‘mass vaccination’ by March

Before March 2020, when businesses were shut and gatherings were restricted, the call centre averaged 166 calls per day. Now, volunteers field about 186 calls per day.

Call numbers dipped during the summer, which Ashton attributed to being able to venture outdoors and see friends and family while social distancing.

However since December, and so far into 2021, call numbers have shot back up, despite the implementation of a federal vaccine plan that estimates mass vaccinations will be complete by early fall.

The director said COVID fatigue is setting in, especially with renewed public health directives to stay home.

“We’re all experiencing this kind of anxiety and fear and the impact of isolation,” Ashton said. “If you haven’t ever experienced mental health struggles you’re starting to understand what it’s like for people who have.”

Ashton hopes the influx of calls during the pandemic is also a reflection of something more positive: more people deciding to access mental health help, tied to a decrease in stigma.

“It takes about 11 minutes of those in crisis being listened to without judgement before callers are calm enough to return to their lives,” she said.

READ MORE: Report finds COVID-19 accelerated declining mental health of Canadian youth

Where to get help

Crisis Centre B.C.: 1-800-SUICIDE, 1-800-784-2433

Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789

Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311

Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311

Online Chat Service for Youth: YouthInBC.com (noon-1 a.m.)

Online Chat Service for Adults: CrisisCentreChat.ca (noon to 1 a.m.)

Kids Help: 1-800-668-6868, live chat counselling at kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Barbara Bernard and Bob Spracklin have brought Poo Worx to Salmon Arm with help from their mentor from the Poo Worx business in Kelowna. The business provides dog poop pickup and related services. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Poo Worx dog poop pickup business opens in Salmon Arm

Canine feces, goose poop, company offers a variety of services

The BC SPCA Shuswap Branch announced Captain and Maria had been adopted together on Feb. 28, 2021. (BC SPCA Shuswap Branch photo)
Shuswap BC SPCA’s inseperable pair of akbash dogs given home

Staff and volunteers at happy to see Captain and Maria adopted together

The District of Sicamous got behind a UBCM resolution which would keep loggers off managed snowmobile trails in the winter. (File photo)
Sicamous, snowmobile club want to keep loggers off sled trails in the winter

Resolution going to UBCM asking that recreational use be given priority in peak snowmobile season

Two semis sideswiped each other after one crossed a double-solid line on the Trans-Canada Highway in Craigellachie on March 2. (Sicamous RCMP image)
Head-on crash avoided by inches as semi trucks side swipe east of Sicamous

Police say a westbound semi truck crossed the double-solid line. Its driver was ticketed.

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has cleared the Lumby RCMP of any wrongdoing after a missing person was found deceased in December 2020. (IIO photo)
Police watchdog says North Okanagan RCMP played no role in missing person’s death

The body was found by a family member shortly after the RCMP suspended their search

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

The images are of Bald Eagles feeding.
Photos: Birds of prey

Princeton photographer captures compelling photos of a Bald Eagle breakfast

HOPE Okanagan’s Stay at Home Gala will raise funds to help serve Kelowna and Vernon’s vulnerable. (HOPE Okanagan)
Non-profit hosts virtual gala to support Okanagan’s vulnerable

HOPE Okanagan wants to raise awareness and support for those struggling in the streets

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

An off-duty Vernon Taxi driver got a 24-hour licence suspension, vehicle towed, after failing a standardized field sobriety test around 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (John E Green - Facebook)
Vernon Taxi towed after driver suspected impaired

Off-duty cab towed from McDonald’s drive-thru early Tuesday morning

Kamloops This Week
Cause of Kamloops landfill fire may never be known

Fire investigators are dealing with too much destruction in too large an area

Most Read