There are numerous opportunities for people in Surrey to talk to someone about their anxiety, depression or feelings as they are socially isolated. (Pixabay photo)

Thank you frontline workers

COVID-19’s ‘collateral damage’ will be our mental health

Numerous programs exist to help Alberni Valley residents

The Surrey Now-Leader published a special tribute to frontline workers in its Thursday, April 30th edition. This story focuses on mental health during the pandemic. Click here to see the whole section.

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The mental health of our country is considered the “collateral damage” of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whether you are feeling stuck at home, or separated from other people, this pandemic has been difficult for all of us,” Premier John Horgan said during a press briefing on April 9. “Everyone is experiencing stress, anxiety, depression and disconnection from what the world was supposed to be.

“If you’re a front-line worker, you’re working hard, you’re stressed – your family is stressed – you’re under intense pressure. People have lost their jobs, business have been shuttered. Seniors are safe at home but they’ve lost their connection to the outside world in many cases and those who live alone or in remote areas are feeling more alone than ever before.”

It’s critical to keep up mental health and wellness as much as our physical fitness, says Judy Darcy, B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

“Many of the things that bring us joy have been put on hold,” from birthdays to marriages, attending fitness classes at a gym to eating out in a restaurant, she said. Equally, people have been prevented from comforting someone who is seriously ill, or simply holding the hand of someone who is dying.

Frontline workers who have been thrust into tragic circumstances and a work environment on high alert “can’t keep pace,” she said. Nor should they have to. That’s why the provincial government is looking closely at the long-term impacts to our collective mental health, and making programs available to people who need help coping.


B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy speaks to reporters at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 24, 2020. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

“The actions we take now to look after the mental health and wellbeing of our communities will reap benefits down the road,” Darcy said.

The province put $5 million into expanding counselling programs, including increasing access to Foundry youth clinics and Bounce Back, among others.

The B.C. Psychologists Association has a team of 200 psychologists volunteering their services to help frontline workers, and a hub for frontline community health care workers has been created too, Darcy said.

“Physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation,” she added.

READ: B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

There are numerous opportunities for people in Surrey to talk to someone about their anxiety, depression or feelings as they are socially isolated.

If you need help right away, call the Canadian Mental Health Association crisis line anytime at 1-800-784-2433 or 310-6789. You can also text 45645 to speak with the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, or visit the online chat service at

The Surrey Mental Health Outreach Program can also be reached at 604-592-2700 from Monday to Friday. 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Surrey’s new Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre is also available to help at the Charles Barham Pavilion at Surrey Memorial Hospital. The $5-million centre, which is near the emergency department, is open 16 hours a day, seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

And students in Surrey school district and their parents or guardians have access to a range of free family counselling services through a partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education. The SFU Surrey Counselling Centre, which opened in 2009, is located at L.A. Matheson Secondary, 9484 122nd St. Call 604-587-7320 to make an appointment.

And a new program unveiled by the provincial government on April 17, Here2Talk, provides free, confidential, single-session services by app, phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. has been in development for several months and work was expedited to roll it out as soon as possible to support students dealing with increased stress from COVID-19.

Mental wellness tips:

  • Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time.
  • Dress for the social life you want, not the one you have. Get showered and dressed every day. Put on bright colours (how you dress can impact your mood).
  • Get outside at least once a day for 30 minutes, keeping in mind social distancing practices. If you cannot get outside, open your doors and windows to experience the fresh air.
  • Find some time for physical activity, such as a walk or a YouTube movement class.
  • Reach out to others via telephone, Face-Time, Skype, texting, etc. Download Zoom (a free app) and have a meeting among friends.

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