NewsNew virtual mental health supports for COVID-19 on way SHARE ON: Troy Landreville, staff Thursday, Apr. 9th, 2020 Premier John Horgan announced $5 million to expand existing mental health programs and services and launch new services to support British Columbians. (Video still from Province of British Columbia)Help is on the way for those feeling stress from the pandemic.Premier John Horgan has announced $5 million in provincial funding that will go towards expanding virtual mental health supports, province wide.“These are critically important times for all of us, and we need to hang together, and we need to recognize that although we may feel stress, we may feel bouts of depression at the challenges that we face as individuals, as a family, and as a community, together we can get through this,” Horgan said.The funding will support virtual programs to keep mental health workers and their clients connected from their homes.Health care workers will also have access to psychologists who have volunteered to provide care through an online support hub.Services will focus on adults, youth and front-line health care workers.The funding will also increase access for Indigenous communities and those living in rural and remote parts of the province.The goal is to provide more options for people living with mental health challenges who are currently unable to access in-person supports.“I have heard from people right across B.C. about how this pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.“Whether longstanding challenges are flaring up or you’re struggling with your mental health for the first time – we’re here for you. We’re working quickly to expand virtual mental health services to ensure that when you reach out for support, someone will be there to help.”The province is working in partnership with Foundry Youth Centres, the Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division (CMHA-BC), the BC Psychological Association and other community partners to deliver new and expanded mental health services.These include:providing more access to online programs for mental health by expanding the BounceBack program. BounceBack provides online coaching and the Living Life to the Full program, which helps people deal with life challenges and learn self-management skills (CMHA-BC);expanding access to no- and low-cost community counselling programs, including those that serve immigrant and refugee populations, and enabling them to be delivered virtually;increasing access to online peer support and system navigation (CMHA-BC);providing virtual supports for youth aged 12 to 24 by making Foundry services available around the province through voice, video and chat (FoundryBC);providing more online tools and resources to help people assess and manage their own mental health;supporting front-line health-care workers through a new online hub and providing virtual peer support (CMHA-BC); anda new online psychological support service for health-care workers (BC Psychological Association).