Monday (Oct. 10) is world mental health day. The goal of the day is to raise awareness of mental health issues. This year’s theme focuses on making “mental health & well-being for all a global priority.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about 17 per cent of British Columbians are experiencing a mental illness or substance use issue today.
Thaddée Bergler, the program manager for the Fraser Health crisis line, said that with public services already overstretched, people are having difficulty accessing support.
Bergler said their crisis line has seen a 30 per cent increase in calls, as compared to pre-pandemic levels. They get approximately 300 calls a day.
Dr. Janel Casey, the regional division head of adult psychiatry for Fraser Health, said she has also seen an increase. There have been “more mental health issues related to the longer-term consequences of the pandemic” due to things like the rising cost of living, the impact on employment from the pandemic, social isolation and more.
Dr. Casey said some of the warning signs of deteriorating mental health are a sustained change in mood or behaviour. Another sign is if an individual is isolating themselves or withdrawing from friends or family.
Bergler says that the first line of defence is your family doctor, to ask your doctor for a mental health assessment if they notice their mental health is declining. For some, the idea of telling their doctor can be overwhelming, so he also suggests calling the crisis line to talk to a trained volunteer.
Dr. Casey said if a friend or family member notices a loved one that is struggling with suicidal thoughts that it is okay to be direct with them and tell them you are worried about them, that you want to help them.
Surrey also has a mental health and substance use urgent care centre (13750 96th Avenue) for adults 19+. The centre is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m.- 8:30 p.m. Individuals do not need a referral to go there. They can go there for a mental health crisis, a social crisis, or an addiction crisis. Dr. Casey said a team of trained specialists at the centre can help.
The crisis line operates 24 hours a day: 604-951-8855 OR 1-877-820-7444
Surrey Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre for adults 19+: Open 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. every day (13750 96th Avenue)