British Columbians who serve on juries now have access to free counselling following a trial.
“As part of a juror’s civic duty, people often hear difficult and emotional details of a case that can take a toll on their mental health,” Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy said in a news release Thursday.
“Making sure that jurors have access to the mental-health services to help them work through their experiences is vital.”
The new Juror Support Program, which already exists in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario, will provide four free confidential in-person counselling sessions for up to six months following the end of a trial, as well as self-care information at the start of a trial to equip them for their jury duty.
Additional counselling sessions will be available on a case-by-case basis.
Before the program, jurors had access to group debriefing sessions at the end of trial, but only if requested by at least six jurors.
This specific program was supported by a federal House of Commons report in May last year.
Mark Farrant, a former juror in Ontario, wrote a letter to Attorney General David Eby calling for better jury supports across Canada. Farrant, who served on a jury for a 2014 murder trial, sued the Ontario and federal governments for $100,000 after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.