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Talk in Tough Times initiative helps those affected by last year's wildfires

Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal - 6/5/2018

The Government of British Columbia and partners from non-profit agencies, local health authorities, First Nations governments, and community organizations are joining forces to support people affected by the 2017 wildfires, to ensure that they get the mental-health supports and services they need.

"Thousands of people were impacted by the devastating wildfires that were experienced across the province last year," says Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "Natural disasters can cause significant stress, and can lead to unexpected mental-health impacts. That's why it is critically important that people are familiar with the mental-health supports and services in place to help them along their healing journey."

The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) has launched a telehealth program called Talk in Tough Times. The program is for youth and adults affected by the wildfires who are experiencing mild to moderate depression, low mood, and/or stress, with or without anxiety.

"The willingness to reach out for help is a sign of strength," says Laurence Lépine, safety and well-being manager, Canadian Red Cross. "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."

The Province, in collaboration with the Canadian Mental Health Association in B.C., First Nations Health Authority, Interior Health Authority, United Way, Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre, and the Canadian Red Cross, has launched a new, community-led Facebook page for Talk in Tough Times. It provides a public forum for people affected by the 2017 wildfires.

The page will be a place where people can learn about, and get connected to, available mental-health resources. To help ensure that British Columbians are aware of, and know how to access, the Talk in Tough Times telehealth program and other mental-health supports and services, the Facebook page will be used to promote key community events and supporting resources.

"Fleeing a fire and/or losing your property are some of the more traumatic events you can deal with. As we approach the spring and summer, past events may trigger some people, and they may be dealing with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and unhealthy substance use," says Bev Gutray, CEO, CMHA BC. "We want those people to know that talking makes a difference, recovery is possible, and help is available."

To provide additional support, the Province, working with community partners, has helped set up mental health and wellness working groups in the Ashcroft area, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, and Quesnel. To support the working groups, community wellness managers—hired by the United Way and funded by the Red Cross—are also in place. Both the working groups and wellness managers are providing coordination at the community level, where mental-health and wellness supports are most needed.

Individuals can access the telehealth program by calling 1-877-427-4884, visit the Talk in Tough Times Facebook page, view the available resources through http://www.bc211.ca online, or call the Mental Health Support Crisis Line at 310-6789 (no area code needed). To access the Talk in Tough Times telehealth program, visit https://cmha.bc.ca/talkintoughtimes.

 
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