A Thunderbird carving by Andrew Mack commemorates Kuu-us Crisis Service’s 25th anniversary. It sits on a pedestal on the Kuu-us grounds at the corner of Johnston Road and Adelaide. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

A Thunderbird carving by Andrew Mack commemorates Kuu-us Crisis Service’s 25th anniversary. It sits on a pedestal on the Kuu-us grounds at the corner of Johnston Road and Adelaide. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni crisis line sees spike in calls during COVID-19

Kuu-us Crisis Line Society provides support

Port Alberni’s Kuu-us Crisis Line Society has seen a spike in calls since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kuu-us, based out of Port Alberni, offers a 24-hour crisis line for mental health issues and crises to community members in the Alberni Valley and the West Coast, as well as Indigenous people across the province.

Kuu-us has recorded a 142 percent spike in calls related to loneliness and a 40 percent increase in calls related to anxiety and depression compared to this time last year. The crisis line is also experiencing a 198 percent rise in call volume relating to addictions compared to this time last year.

Support worker Kateri Deutsch says the pandemic is “definitely” a factor when it comes to this jump in calls.

“At the beginning of this, I think we all thought we would be in lockdown for a couple weeks,” said Deutsch. “It’s been a lot longer than that. I think people are starting to feel the despair of when is it ever going to end?”

Kuu-us isn’t the only organization seeing a change in numbers. According to a new survey by Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the second wave of the pandemic has intensified feelings of stress and anxiety and increased levels of despair, suicidal thoughts and hopelessness among British Columbians.

READ MORE: Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

As winter approaches, 42 percent of British Columbians who filled out the survey said that their mental health has deteriorated since March. More than a third of British Columbians (36 percent) are worried about finances. Thirteen percent of people surveyed in British Columbia indicated that they have increased their use of substances as a way to cope.

One in 10 Canadians (10 percent) are experiencing recent thoughts or feelings of suicide—up from six percent in the spring and 2.5 percent throughout pre-pandemic 2016.

“We’re definitely seeing a rise in calls related to loneliness, addiction,” said Deutsch. “Especially from elders, who would normally have services come in to them in person. We’re definitely seeing it more in rural communities, where all of the services that are offered are closed.”

In Port Alberni, Kuu-us has had to “revisit” some of the outreach services they offer. Their hot meal program, for example, has been stopped. They have instead partnered with other agencies to form a COVID-19 Community Response Team.

READ MORE: Alberni’s COVID-19 response team steps up food delivery as need increases

“We travel in a convoy every day to hand out essentials where [the people are] at,” said Deutsch.

Kuu-us staff have also been adjusting to the increased numbers. Debriefing services are available to all staff, and there is a strong focus on self-care, said Deutsch.

“We don’t want anyone to experience burnout,” she added.

Recently, Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation made a $10,000 donation to the Kuu-us Crisis Line Society to continue to provide this potentially life-saving service to Indigenous people across British Columbia. The funds will be used in the Kuu-us crisis department to support staff on the crisis line and callers.

“We think it’s a wonderful gift,” said Deutsch.

The pandemic, said Deutsch, has shown just how important crisis lines can be. For some people, it’s their only lifeline for support. There are many “wonderful counsellors” across the province, said Deutsch, but many of them are busy—especially in the middle of a pandemic.

“When you’re waiting for your appointment with a counsellor, it’s sometimes nice to have someone on the other side of the line,” said Deutsch.

Kuu-us provides support to all community members in the Alberni Valley and on the West Coast, as well as Indigenous people all across B.C. The crisis line can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week, toll free from anywhere in B.C. at 1-800-588-8717. Alternatively, individuals can call the youth line at 250-723-2040 or the adult/elder line at 250-723-4050.

“We’d never, ever turn a caller away,” said Deutsch.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusmental health

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

Just Posted

The intersection at 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Safety improvements planned for Port Alberni intersection

10th Avenue and Dunbar Street is an “intersection of concern” based on incident data

Members of Huu-ay-aht First Nations conducted two checkpoints on Monday, May 10, asking people who enter the territory to respect the sacred principles and to act accordingly while on Huu-ay-aht land. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Huu-ay-aht First Nations set up checkpoints in territory

Access restrictions come after forestry incidents

Bulldogs forward Brandon Buhr is knocked off the puck by Grizzlies defenceman Lindsay Reid. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs beaten back-to-back by Victoria Grizzlies

Victoria Grizzlies named Island Champions while Bulldogs take second place

In 1903, if you were looking north down First Avenue with Alberni in the distance, this is what you would have seen. Scattered houses along River Road are visible, as is the corner of Watson Block building in the lower lefthand corner of the photograph. This photo is part of the 24,000 online collection of the Alberni Valley Museum. View this one and more at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN02975 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Historic street scenes of Port Alberni

Take a peek back in time with the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives

This photo shows Franklin River Camp "B" circa 1940. Logging was started in the Franklin River area by Bloedel, Stewart & Welch in 1934. This is one of 42 photos of the Franklin River area, donated together in an album put together by the donor's husband, Stanley Young. Young worked as a highrigger in the Franklin River area from 1939-46. This is one of 24,000 photos contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives, available for public viewing at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN10830 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: Logging along Franklin River

Take a peek at Alberni Valley history with the Alberni Valley Museum

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read