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

The Oliver Municipal Aiport runway will be extended in spring 2021. (Oliver Municipal Airport / Facebook)
Oliver airport runway to be extended

The extension will be funded through a provincial grant

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

BC Housing has proposed that the emergency winter shelter at Victory Church at 352 Winnipeg Street be extended as a shelter until March 31, 2022. It was originally intended to be open until April 1, 2021. (Jesse Day - Western News)
One more year of ‘temporary’ homeless shelter in Penticton?

BC Housing has applied to extend Victory Church as a shelter for those experiencing homelessness

The Wrong Turn Tavern in Keremeos is for sale. (Facebook)
Popular Keremeos tavern up for sale

Owner Liza Sanders is selling The Wrong Turn Tavern for $800,000

Walter Makepeace was shocked to find two of his beehives were missing from his Keremeos acreage Feb. 20, 2020. (Contributed)
Allegedly stolen beehives create buzz in Keremeos

Walter Makepeace was shocked to see two beehives had gone missing from his property

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here are the stories that made waves in the Okanagan-Shuswap

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Arrow Lakes Caribou Society said the new caribou pen near the Nakusp Hotsprings is close to completion. (Submitted)
Maternity caribou pen near Nakusp inches closer to fruition

While Nakusp recently approved the project’s lease, caribou captures are delayed due to COVID-19

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021
Kamloops-Thompson school district drafts new dress code policy after students sent home

The new policy is being created after a NorKam secondary student was sent home because of what she was wearing

Most Read