The government of B.C. is reminding people that during this stressful time of year there are social supports available for those struggling with mental health or substance use issues.
“If you’re struggling this Christmas, know that you don’t have to cope on your own,” reads a recent government release from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
“There are a variety of mental-health and substance-use services and supports available throughout the province for adults, youth and children. These supports offer easy access to caring, professional help, and the people on the other end of the phone are always ready to listen.
“The pressure of finding the perfect gift, spending time with family and friends, and making sure that children have a memorable holiday can be overwhelming for those who are dealing with anxiety or depression.”
Some of the provincial services available include:
- Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre: Provides confidential, non-judgmental, free emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including thoughts of suicide. Phone: toll-free 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
- HealthLink BC: Provides 24-hour, confidential health information and advice. Phone: 8-1-1
- Mental-Health and Substance-Use Information: Heretohelp.bc.ca is a provincial website that provides information about managing mental illness and maintaining good mental health, including self-management resources and screening self-tests for wellness, mood, anxiety and risky drinking.
- Substance Use Services: B.C. has a network of direct and contracted services for individuals suffering from substance-use challenges, including counselling, needle exchanges, opiate replacement therapy, as well as withdrawal management and prevention programs for adults and youth. Call toll-free: 1-866-658-1221.
- The Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service: Provides resources, support and referral information for treatment and counsellors throughout the province. Call toll-free: 1-800-663-1441.
- Alcohol Sense: A resource for parents and caregivers to support them in having resiliency-enhancing conversations about drinking with their children, including young adult children.
- Bounce Back: An evidence-based program designed to help adults experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, low mood or stress, with or without anxiety. Call toll-free: 1-866-639-0522
And it’s not just adults who can find this time of year difficult: the excitement of gifts, late nights and increased family time can also affect children and youth, leading to feelings of stress, sadness and even loneliness over the holidays.
Additional supports for children and youth include:
- Kids Help Phone: Immediate and caring support, information and, if necessary, referral to a local community or social service agency. Phone toll-free: 1-800-668-6868
- Youth in B.C. Distress Line: 24-hour distress line staffed by counsellors and trained volunteers who are committed to helping youths in crisis. Phone: 604-872-3311
- Online services map: Interactive map listing around 350 mental-health and substance-use services for children and youth.