Expanding access to mental health support for health and social service workers

Health care and community social services workers across British Columbia will have access to more mental health support as the province expands tailored programs for the sector.

The BC Government has invested $735,000 to expand Care to Speak and Care for Caregivers – two unique programs that provide online peer support and targeted educational resources for healthcare and community social services workers. As of 2020, the two services have reached more than 76,000 workers.

“We have never asked for more from our healthcare workers as BC continues to battle two public health emergencies,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Secretary of State for Mental Health and Addiction. “Our government is expanding mental health support via phone, text and virtual chat for those working in healthcare and social services so the people the people of British Columbia rely on can continue to help others.”

Through this investment, the Care to Speak service will be able to increase availability and opportunities for long-term and permanent care healthcare professionals to connect with peers who have experience in the sector and have been trained in active listening and can provide psychological support. Workers can also visit the Care for Caregivers website to access up-to-date and tailored educational resources, including workshops for those who work in healthcare.

“Many health care and community social services workers have experienced distress, anxiety, grief, depression and trauma in responding to the emergencies of COVID-19 and poisoned drugs,” said Jonny Morris, CEO of the BC Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association . “Care to Speak provides free, confidential emotional support through people who receive it and provides a bridge to other services such as the province’s Mobile Response Team. If you are a caregiver, contact support. If you know someone who is, share this resource and show that you care.”

Care to Speak is available Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9pm, with additional hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10am to 2pm

Improving mental health support is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, BC’s roadmap to building the comprehensive mental health and addiction support system that British Columbians deserve.


Saleema Dhalla, CEO, SafeCare BC Health and Safety Association –

“Healthcare workers across BC have looked after us during the pandemic. You work in a challenging and stressful environment. We owe it to them to ensure not only their physical safety but also their psychological well-being. We know that Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak are filling an important need for medical workers and we are pleased that this extremely important service will continue.”

dr Yuet Ting Ma, PharmD, RPh, Care to Speak Peer –

“As a healthcare provider working in the mental health and addiction space, I believe Care to Speak is a great resource available to healthcare and social workers to seek peer support. This pandemic has taken a massive toll on everyone’s mental health, especially healthcare providers. I am truly honored to be a part of this program as a volunteer and to support others on their mental health journey.”

Monika Salgado, Care to Speak Peer –

“While there are other hotlines, the Care to Speak program was created to support individuals in health and social care. With both my mother and sister working as nurses and myself in community service, I never thought that helpers needed help until I discovered Care to Speak. Being a peer support volunteer has impacted my life in so many positive ways. I gained a new level of confidence and it taught me to be more compassionate towards others. I appreciate the new skills I’ve picked up since I started volunteering and the best part is being able to make a difference in our communities.”

Learn more:

Learn more about A Pathway to Hope, the BC provincial government’s vision for mental health and addiction services: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021MMHA0049-001787

Care for Caregivers and Care to Speak: https://www.careforcaregivers.ca/
Peer Support Toll-Free Line: 1.866.802-7337 (PEER)

About Ellen Lewandowski

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