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Expanding access to mental health supports for health-care, social service workers

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:30 PDT, Mon May 9, 2022

Health-care and community social services workers throughout British Columbia will be able to access more mental health supports as the province expands tailor-made programs for the sector.

The Government of B.C. has invested $735,000 to expand Care to Speak and Care for Caregivers—two unique programs that offer online peer support and targeted educational mental health resources for health-care and community social services workers. Since 2020, the two services have reached more than 76,000 workers.

"We have never asked more of our health-care workers as B.C. continues to fight two public health emergencies," said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Our government is expanding phone, text, and virtual chat mental health supports for those working in health care and social services so that the people that British Columbians rely on can keep helping others."

Through this investment, the Care to Speak service will be able to increase availability and ways for health-care workers in long-term and continuing care to connect to peers who have experience in the sector and who have been trained in active listening and can provide mental health supports. Workers can also visit the Care for Caregivers website to access timely and tailored educational resources, including workshops for those working in health care.

"Many health-care and community social service workers have experienced distress, anxiety, grief, depression, and trauma when responding to the COVID-19 and poisoned drug emergencies," said Jonny Morris, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division. "Care to Speak provides free, confidential emotional support by people who get it, and offers a bridge into other services like the provincial Mobile Response Team. If you are a care provider, reach out for support. If you know someone who is, share this resource and show you care."

Care to Speak is available Monday to Friday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m., with additional hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Enhancing mental health supports is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, B.C.'s roadmap for building the comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that British Columbians deserve.

"Health-care workers across B.C. have been taking care of us during the pandemic,” said Saleema Dhalla, chief executive officer of SafeCare BC Health and Safety Association. “They work in a challenging and stressful environment. We owe it to them to not only ensure their physical safety, but also their psychological wellness. We know that Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak meet an important need for health-care workers, and we're pleased to see this critically important service continue."

For more information on Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak: The peer support toll-free hotline number is 1-866-802-7337 (PEER).

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