Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon and District Branch executive director Julia Payson said $5-million provincial investment in online programming will help serve many during the COVID-19 crisis. (File photo)

COVID-19: Vernon CMHA programs get boost from province

$5M investment in online mental health supports will help local branch provide services

Virtual peer support and phone-based BounceBack coaching are two Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) projects in Vernon that have been given a boost from additional provincial funding.

The provincial government announced $5 million to expand existing mental health programs on Thursday, April 9.

Premier John Horgan said those feeling anxious, depressed or disconnected because of COVID-19 are not alone.

“Our government is working to give you more options for mental health support, as we all stay home to prevent the spread of this virus,” he said.

“We are so appreciative to have additional resources and funding for these programs as we are navigating our way through this crisis,” CMHA Vernon executive director Julia Payson said.

“CMHAs across B.C. have seen a strong increase in demand for mental health support over the past month and it is a relief to have this support from the province to strengthen our response.”

The funding will go toward more staff support and online platforms.

In addition to phone-based programs such as BounceBack and the Crisis Line, CMHA Vernon has been offering many of its in-person programs online including workplace education, youth programs and suicide grief support sessions.

“It has gone remarkably well,” Payson said. “Especially considering how quickly we had to make the changes to ensure there were no gaps in the service.”

The sudden switch to online services was due to the provincial health orders to maintain physical distancing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We are here for everyone in our community,” Payson said. “For those of us who work on our mental health every day, for those who have lost our normal coping strategies and for those of us who have never before faced the wide-spread mental health challenges that are emerging at this time.”

Payson said it is normal to feel afraid during uncertain times and it’s OK to reach out.

“That is why we are here,” she said.

For more information, visit cmhaernon.ca/covid-19-help/.

READ MORE: Mental health as important as physical in COVID-19 crisis: CMHA Vernon

READ MORE: COVID-19: Vernon Canadian Tire sees long lineups


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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