Healthcare workers can call 1-866-802-7337 (PEER) or chat online to connect with a peer about the stresses of being on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zoe does check-in calls for Canadian Mental Health Association in Vernon.

Who cares for the caregivers? Mental health supports for front line workers

New peer support program connects healthcare workers with someone who understands

We’ve banged pots and pans during the 7 o’clock cheer, we’ve decorated our windows with hearts and we’ve thanked health workers any chance we get.

But for most of us, when it’s time to empathize with the personal struggles of front line workers risking exposure and added stress, the best we can say is ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through.’

That’s why the Canadian Mental Health Association and SafeCare BC have launched Care to Speak, a peer support program where front line health workers can talk to someone who understands. A peer familiar with the pressures of the job who has experienced similar struggles.

“Health care workers have been on the front lines since the COVID-19 pandemic began months ago. They continue to bravely and selflessly make the health of British Columbians a priority — sometimes at the expense of their own personal and emotional well-being,” says Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m so pleased about the launch of Care to Speak. I know it will help health care workers, including those in the continuing care sector, to get the mental health supports they need and deserve.”

Support for health care workers

Connect with trained peer support by instant chat or by phone at 1-866-802-7337 (PEER) Monday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The service is free, and confidential.

Peer Support Workers are people with experience in long-term care, home care and other front line health care roles. The program is not clinical and peer support workers are not counsellors or therapists. Rather than focus on diagnoses, they provide empathy and guidance, and can also provide referrals to other resources like CMHA BC’s BounceBack coaching program, employee and family assistance programs, and the Mobile Response Team.

“Health care workers — particularly those in the continuing care sector — have been working in a challenging and stressful environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s critically important that we support not only their physical safety, but also their psychological safety,” says Jen Lyle, Chief Executive Officer, SafeCare BC. “Having a peer available for health care workers to talk to will be a huge boost to their mental wellness and helps to ensure healthcare workers are in the best position to take care of us.”

“Working under acutely stressful circumstances for prolonged periods of time can significantly impact our mental health, and stigma often prevents people from seeking the help they need. But it can be really beneficial to speak with someone else who has experienced what you are going through and who can empathize with what you are feeling,” says Jonny Morris, Chief Executive Officer, CMHA BC Division.

Care for Caregivers was developed with funding from the Government of BC, as part of its $5 million investment to expand existing mental health programs and services and launch new services to support the mental health of British Columbians during the COVID-19 response and beyond.

For more information about Care to Speak, virtual peer support visit careforcaregivers.ca/caretospeak.

BC HealthHealthcaremental health

 

Megan Cranton, Canadian Mental Health Association’s Intake Coordinator. The CMHA and SafeCare BC have launched a peer support program called Care to Speak where front line health workers can phone or chat online about mental health challenges.

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