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Mental health call-line set up for people affected by 2017 wildfire season

Telehealth program aims to help people suffering from depression, stress, or anxiety

A new dedicated help line is now available in B.C. for people experiencing mental health problems following the 2017 wildfire season.

The B.C. division of the Canadian Mental Health Association has set up a telehealth program, called Talk in Tough Times, to help adults and teens who are suffering from mild to moderate depression, stress, or anxiety as a result of the province’s worst wildfire season on record.

“Fleeing a fire and/or losing your property are some of the more traumatic events you can deal with,” said the association’s CEO, Bev Gutray.

“As we approach the spring and summer, past events may trigger some people. … We want those people to know that talking makes a difference, recovery is possible, and help is available.”

READ MORE: B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

READ MORE: Reporters reflect on the 2017 wildfire season

Also launched are a Facebook page to share information on mental health resources and related community events, as well as mental health working groups in Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, the Ashcroft area and Quesnel. Community wellness managers will be in place there, hired by the United Way and funded by the Red Cross.

“In particular, First Nations populations with pre-existing mental or physical health issues may see their symptoms intensify,” said Lisa Montgomery-Reid, the Interior regional director for the First Nations Health Authority. “We know that in about 20% of cases, extra support is called for.”

You can call the telehealth program at 1-877-427-4884 or check out the resources through the bc211.ca.

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