United Way has made supporting our community’s mental health a top priority amid COVID-19.

United Way Greater Victoria (UWGV) is appealing to the public to help support mental health services as part of its fundraising campaign, especially since the holiday season can be a trigger for many.

Donations raised fund counselling services, outreach and peer support workers, and to create virtual social gathering places so individuals can connect in order to reduce isolation.

There have been many changes in the community since COVID-19 hit; more people are living with uncertainty, there has been a toll on our mental health, our relationships and our financial security. More individuals are on the edge of poverty. Stress is high. The need for support is greater than ever before.

In response to COVID-19 back in March, UWGV narrowed its focus into three areas of action: mental health & addictions; isolated seniors, and families in need.

Since that time, UWGV has funded many social service agencies to help shift their resources from in person support services to a virtual setting. Counselling services have been at the top of the list, but the need is growing as the pandemic continues to impact our well-being.

Over 50% of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated during COVID-19

For those of us who were already struggling with mental health issues, the pandemic has compounded matters.

Tracy is someone who reached out for help, as she was in a complete crisis. “I had teenagers at home and a marriage that was struggling. I could barely leave the house as my anxiety and OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder] had gotten so bad,” says Tracy.

1 in 4 people living on Vancouver Island struggle with mental health issues – it could be a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour

Thankfully, Tracy received assistance from the Mental Health Recovery Partners (MHRP), a United Way funded partner. She has met a community of compassionate people who have been through their own journeys with mental health struggles.

Because Tracy broke her silence and asked for help through a peer support group, she is now full of hope and possibility. She understands that she isn’t alone and she has a plan in place to take charge of her life.

“I can say I am healthy again. My kids have a mom who is actually present in their lives and my husband has a wife, not a shell of the person he married.”

(Tracy / United Way Greater Victoria)

This holiday season, you can give the gift of counselling. UWGV is accepting donations at 250-385-6708 or online.

Here are examples of how your gift can make a difference:

  • $100/month or a one-time gift of $1,200

Provides online crisis intervention counselling for 24 youth.

  • $50/month or a one-time gift of $600

Provides ten weeks of counselling for a woman recovering from abuse and trauma.

  • $25/month or a one-time gift of $300

Provides five hours of counselling services for someone living with mental health challenges.

If you are concerned about your mental health or that of someone else – please call or text 2-1-1 for immediate assistance, or visit bc211.ca to find out what local services are available to help you.

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