Seventy-four per cent of Albertans feel their mental health has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent government survey suggests. Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

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

Numerous programs exist to help Alberni Valley residents

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.

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

“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.

“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.

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

Outreach Therapy Alberni Valley & West Coast is available for families of pre-school aged children, by telehealth, phone or e-mail. They have a website at

Port Alberni Family Guidance Association is open for counselling sessions by phoning 250-724-0125.

Canadian Mental Health Port Alberni is posting regular tips on its Facebook page and is available for mental health needs.

Counsellor Pamela Ana of Wellness Matters Counselling and Consulting is offering telephone counselling to clients. E-mail her at for details.

Counsellor James Cowan of Tall Tree Counselling and Consulting Services is offering telephone and video counselling to clients, and has opened up some time specifically for people dealing with COVID-19 related issues. He can be reached online at or e-mail

For School District 70 youth, there is counselling via telephone with Jordan or Rachel at 250-724-0125 until May 31.

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.

CoronavirusIsland Healthmental healthPort Alberni

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


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

Researchers want to know how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting mental health. Pixabay

The Vernon and District branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has come up with some creative ways to stay connected with family and friends during the COVID-19 pandemic. (CMHA photo)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Summer never ends at Port Alberni’s DRAW Gallery

Exhibit showcases four new Ucluelet artists

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing man

Jeff Buck was last seen June 25, 2020

QUINN’S QUIPS: Ramsay family of Port Alberni takes a grad trip of a lifetime

Family got caught in Europe as countries were closing their borders due to COVID-19

ARTS AROUND: Creative carvings on display at Rollin Art Centre

July’s exhibit will feature artists Cecil Dawson, Allen Halverson, Nigel Atkin and others

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read