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Posted: September 27, 2021

Standing up for care providers’ mental health and safety

Letter to the Editor

It is not acceptable to interrupt vital, life-saving services to exercise the right to protest, and it’s taking a toll on care providers’ mental health.

Care providers deserve tremendous respect and support from every British Columbian.

Care providers have been at the forefront of B.C.’s health crises every day, taking care of our friends, families and neighbours who are suffering, sick, stressed and scared. They’ve been providing vital support to help people affected by the pandemic and drug poisoning crises, extreme heat events and the confirmation of unmarked graves at former Indian Residential School sites. Every day, care providers support others through stressful times while they, themselves, are carrying heavy emotional weight.

Over the past 18 months, care workers have worried about bringing COVID-19 into their workplace or bringing it home to their own families. On top of these pressures, care providers are now experiencing fear and intimidation at their worksites. Workplaces can have a significant impact on mental health, and care providers need supports to keep them well during these difficult times. That’s why the province and community partners like Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) and SafeCare BC are working together to provide more options to support care providers.

People in caring professions often put their own needs ahead of others. We want front-line providers to know that caring for your own mental health is vital for your family, friends and patients. It takes strength to reach out and seek help.

If you are in crisis, there is hope and help. Call the crisis line at 1-800-SUICIDE for crisis support anytime, or 310-6789 (no area code needed) for emotional support or information. Indigenous peoples can call the Kuu-us crisis line (1 800 588-8717) for culturally specific assistance.

CMHA BC and the province have partnered with SafeCare BC to launch two free support programs for health-care workers – Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak. If you need to talk, Care to Speak provides free, confidential peer support for health-care workers in B.C., either through online chat support or by calling 1 866 802-7337 (PEER).

Care for Caregivers offers targeted mental health support for health-care providers, including trusted information, free workshops to support employees and managers and quick daily coping tips. Both services have been welcomed by health-care workers throughout the province.

B.C.’s new Workplace Mental Health Hub provides targeted support to people working in tourism, hospitality and community social services. The Hub provides information, training, webinars and workshops to help manage stress, build resilience and foster positive workplaces. Access the hub.

Many of our care teams experience extreme distress and trauma when responding to the COVID-19 and poisoned drug emergencies. The provincial Mobile Response Team provides mental health support for health-care workers in long-term care facilities and those working on the front lines of the drug poisoning crisis. For support, call 1 888 686-3022 or email: [email protected] .

We owe a huge debt of thanks to our care providers for showing up every day to take care of others. All levels of government, community agencies, partners and the public must continue to support our care providers’ mental and physical well-being.

If you are a care provider, or you know someone who is, reach out to them, share these resources and show you care.

Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions; 
Jonny Morris, chief executive officer, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division; and
Saleema Dhalla, Interim CEO, SafeCare BC

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