KeepHealthCare.ORG – Mental health supports rolled out for those impacted by 2017 wildfires
KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – This year’s wildfire season may be triggering memories of last year’s devastation. That’s why the provincial government is teaming up with several non-profit and health agencies to offer resources to thousands of British Columbians who may be suffering.
Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy says natural disasters can cause significant stress and lead to unexpected problems. A telehealth program, called “Talk in Tough Times” and a corresponding Facebook page were launched this week.
While this year’s situation is still unfolding, Darcy says this specific initiative is focusing on symptoms triggered by the 2017 wildfires.
“Usually the biggest impact of it, on your mental health, can come many months later and even a year later on the anniversary of the event or later than that.”
Darcy says one of the biggest challenges is breaking down the walls of silence surrounding the stigma of mental health issues.
“It’s okay to say you’re not okay. You’ve shown you’re tough, you’ve come through.”
Last November, the province provided over $1 million to the First Nations Health Authority, to support 28 areas hit hard by wildfires. Darcy those specific communities are especially vulnerable.
“Their entire culture, their entire history is about the land and being connected with the land.”
Some of the organizations collaborating with the province on this program include the Canadian Mental Health Association, the First Nations Health Authority, the Interior Health Authority, United Way, the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre and the Canadian Red Cross.
“The willingness to reach out for help is a sign of strength,” Laurence Lépine, safety and well-being manager at the Canadian Red Cross says in a release.
“It is the best way to maintain our ability to continue to fill our roles as parents, workers or community members during tough times. After a disaster, seeking support is necessary if your daily life is impacted by stress symptoms, like having trouble sleeping, eating too much or not at all, consuming too much alcohol or using substances more than usual, or just feeling overwhelmed. It is important to watch for this in ourselves, as well as our family and friends.”
You can access the telehealth program by calling 1 877 427-4884 or get help by calling the Mental Health Support Crisis Line at 310-6789 (no area code needed).