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Mental health supports available for British Columbians impacted by wildfires

Disaster Psychological Support team deployed through B.C.’s Emergency Management program

B.C. says it has deployed its Disaster Psychological Support team to help provide mental health supports for anyone impacted by the wildfires.

The Disaster Psychological Support team members have been deployed through B.C.’s Emergency Management program to different reception centres in the Interior. Team members provide “psychosocial support in the form of Psychological First Aid, which is a holistic, community wellness approach to help reduce levels of emotional distress for individuals, families, responders and communities.”

The provincial government says it’s working with health authorities and other agencies to support people and connect them with mental health services in what is an incredibly difficult time for many people. Earlier this week, more than 25,000 British Columbians were on evacuation order and another 37,000 were on alert.

Many evacuations orders have been downgraded, as well as alerts being rescinding, but more than 15,000 people remain on evacuation order as of Saturday.

READ MORE: Evacuation order lifted for some Westbank First Nation properties

READ MORE: Crater Creek wildfire near Keremeos sees no growth; evacuation orders still in place

READ MORE: Unclear when Okanagan seniors evacuated from wildfire zones will return home: Interior Health

“Many of those impacted are First Nations and Indigenous communities, who face additional stress and trauma due to historic displacements from their lands and homes.”

First Nations Health Authority staff have been at evacuation reception centres to support Indigenous evacuees needing to access mental wellness counselling services and traditional wellness resources and to provide a culturally safe contact for bridging to needed health-care resources.

For additional help, they can contact:

Anyone can call the BC Mental Health Support Line for free, around the clock, at 310-6789 for help with anxiety, depression, emotional support and resources specific to mental health and substance-use disorders.

Access to substance-use services, such as harm reduction supplies, overdose prevention services, naloxone, treatment options, such as opioid agonist treatment, safe supply and counselling, is available and can be co-ordinated through this number.


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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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