Health

With a million-dollar initiative, United Way takes the pandemic’s mental health effects to heart

The money will be distributed among mental health organizations on Vancouver Island

By Emily Fagan
April 8, 2021
Health

With a million-dollar initiative, United Way takes the pandemic’s mental health effects to heart

The money will be distributed among mental health organizations on Vancouver Island

By Emily Fagan
Apr 8, 2021
Submitted
Health

With a million-dollar initiative, United Way takes the pandemic’s mental health effects to heart

The money will be distributed among mental health organizations on Vancouver Island

By Emily Fagan
April 8, 2021
With a million-dollar initiative, United Way takes the pandemic’s mental health effects to heart
Submitted

Editor's note: Capital Daily is a media sponsor of the Blue Love campaign.

More than a year into the pandemic, many Canadians’ mental health is stretched thin—along with the funding for resources to support them. A new initiative from United Way Greater Victoria, however, looks to raise a million dollars for local mental health organizations to help them meet the rising demand for services.

“The pandemic has really exacerbated issues and challenges that affected so many of us,” Mark Breslauer, CEO of United Way Greater Victoria, said. “The goal of a campaign is to supplement existing infrastructure around counselling and peer support, and reduce the stigma so people feel it’s that much more accessible.”

Since the start of the pandemic, half of Canadians have reported their mental health worsening. United Way’s 211 helpline saw a 30% increase in calls related to mental health challenges from the year prior. To symbolize the ‘black and blue’ of trauma to mental health that many have undergone during this time, United Way chose to name this initiative the Blue Love campaign to convey their desire to help those struggling with their mental health during the pandemic.

Through the campaign, United Way hopes to fund up to 15 new positions for counsellors, outreach workers, and peer support staff at mental health organizations on the Island. These new staff, they estimate, will help support 9,000 to 15,000 more adults, youth, and children facing mental health challenges.

The groups that may benefit from the program: Family Services of Greater Victoria; Hulitan Family Services; Connections Place; Mental Health Recovery Partners; Greater Victoria Citizen’s Counselling Centre; NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Education, and Support; Pacific Centre Family Services; South Island Centre for Counselling and Training; Sooke Family Resource Society; and Vancouver Island Men’s Therapy Centre. 

To make this support possible, United Way has partnered with companies including Peninsula Co-op, Country Grocer, and media partners like Capital Daily. They are also asking for support from community members, whose donations will help fuel the backbone of this initiative. Thanks to a $100,000 gift from Peninsula Co-op, all donations up to that amount will be matched.

For those at the beneficiary organizations—including Hazel Meredith, CEO of Mental Health Recovery Partners—the new support workers this project aims to provide has the potential to make a big difference.

“It's never gonna be as much of an important time as it is now, especially [when] this [COVID] wave keeps continuing,” Meredith said. “We need to sort out our services now, so that we can be prepared for hopefully post-COVID time, when people are going to be trying to make sense out of what’s happened.”

With this funding, Meredith said her organization hopes to speed up the month-long wait times for counselling services, expand their outreach services to help reach those who are isolated, and to provide more peer support services to help people find hope in a difficult time.

The Capital Daily Newsletter

Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Thanks to funding from United Way and other supporters, the services Mental Health Recovery Partners provides are free to the community. Many of the other organizations partnered with United Way also provide free services, and those that do not offer a sliding scale or discounted rates for those who are on lower incomes.

United Way is collecting donations online for their Blue Love campaign until the end of the year. Throughout the month of April, Victorians can support this campaign through buying a $2 blue heart at Country Grocer.

“So many of our family, friends and neighbours are struggling with their mental health and they’re often not able to get the support they so desperately need,”  Lindsay Gaudette, Director of Marketing and Community Relations at Peninsula Co-op, said. “We hope that our community will be inspired to rally alongside us to provide more resources so we can help heal hearts and minds.”

contact@capitaldaily.ca

The Capital Daily Newsletter

Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.