B.C.’s registered psychologists offering free mental health support during coronavirus pandemic

Mental health and well-being have always been important.

“Now COVID-19 has made it more important than ever,” said Shelagh Turner, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kelowna chapter.

Accordingly, the need for mental health services has risen dramatically.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in requests for help from individuals who are at home trying to manage their mental health during this crisis,” Turner told Global News on Wednesday.

It’s a need that’s being felt everywhere and the reason why help is now just a free phone call away.

All thanks to a University of British Columbia Okanagan professor.

“I put a call out to every single registered psychologist in B.C.,” said Lesley Lutes, a UBCO psychology professor.

Lutes said that within one week, she had 200 registered psychologists from the British Columbia Psychological Association (BCPA) on board.

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“To volunteer their time in order to provide in free psychological support,” Lutes said.

At first, the program was only for frontline healthcare workers.

But because of the popularity of the program with essential services, psychologists soon realized the need may have been greater.

So now the resource has been expanded to include everyone — all you have to do is call 604-827-0847 or go online to the BCPA’s website and fill out a form.

“You sign up, you tell us when you want to be called, we will call you back that day,” said psychologist Beverley Kort.

Kort is just one of the 200 registered psychologists who have volunteered to help out with the program.

“Everybody is going through the same thing and we want you to know that we are there for you,” Kort said, adding “every day you could have a half-hour conversation with one of us.”

Experts say the entire spectrum of mental-health consequences of COVID-19 aren’t predictable.

“There will be long-term impacts in terms of trauma, depression, anxiety, all those other things that clinically will come down the road,” said Lutes.

Which is why professionals are trying to offer psychological first aid now.

“To try to mitigate some of the risks early on,” Lutes said.

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