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

An officer collects forensic evidence from a police SUV following the July 18, 2015 incident that ended in the police-shooting death of Hudson Brooks in South Surrey. (File photo)
Experts discuss toxicology, use-of-force at inquest into fatal 2015 police shooting in South Surrey

Proceedings could lead to recommendations for preventing similar deaths

Longtime Earl Marriott Secondary rugby coach Adam Roberts said he’s concerned that young athletes are losing motivation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cancelled high-school sports seasons since last spring. (Janice Croze photo)
COVID-19: Stress, lack of activity a consequence of pandemic

‘There’s nothing really driving’ students right now, says South Surrey rugby coach

Photo: Surrey RCMP
Surrey RCMP arrests two boys, age 16, during dial-a-dope investigation in Whalley

Sergeant Elenore Sturko said one boy is ‘alleged to have been in possession of a loaded handgun at the time of his arrest’

(Photo: junioreinsteinsacademy.ca)
Nearly 300 new child-care spaces coming to Surrey

Provincial funding to benefit five centres

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
7 Surrey schools reporting possible COVID-19 exposures; no variants reported overnight

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Anti-pipeline protests continue in Greater Vancouver, with the latest happening Thursday, March 4 at a Trans Mountain construction site in Burnaby. (Facebook/Laurel Dykstra)
A dozen faith-based protestors blockade Burnaby Trans Mountain site in prayer

The group arrived early Thursday, planning to ‘block any further work’

Mid day at the Vancouver Port Intersection blockade on March 3, organized by the Braided Warriors. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
Anti-pipeline blockade at Vancouver intersection broken up by police

Demonstraters were demanding the release of a fellow anti-TMX protester

(Government of B.C.)
Backcountry skiers are dwarfed by the mountains as they make their way along a mountain ridge near McGillivray Pass Lodge located in the southern Chilcotin Mountains of British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012. Avalanche Canada has issued a special warning to people who use the backcountry in the mountains of western Alberta and eastern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Avalanche Canada special warning for mountains in western Alberta, eastern B.C.

Avalanche Canada also says everyone in a backcountry party needs essential rescue gear

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Most Read