Thousands of volunteers come forward to offer mental health support during COVID-19
As Canadians continue to grapple with an unprecedented level of stress as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, thousands of volunteers have come forward to offer emotional support to others — a move experts say could benefit their own mental well-being as much as the people they’re helping.
« All of us are in this process of figuring out ‘What is the new normal?' » said Alisa Simon, senior vice-president of innovation at Kids Help Phone.
Simon’s other title — chief youth officer — reflects the fact that for more than 30 years, Kids Help Phone has been a national helpline for children and young adults.
But with the onset of COVID-19, the service has been deluged with calls and texts from grown-ups feeling overwhelmed.
« They started with, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m not a kid. Can I still use this?' » Simon told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC podcast The Dose, in a recent episode about COVID-19 and mental health.
Although there are helplines and distress services for adults in Canada, there’s no single national line, so services tend to be « fragmented, » she said.
« There is a huge gap in the fact that adults, parents, front-line workers are experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress right now. They don’t know where to turn. »
At the same time, Kids Help Phone was dealing with a huge jump in COVID-19-related calls from children and young people.
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