Due to the serious and growing concern of COVID-19, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Vernon & District Branch is transitioning many of its programs and services to online and phone support to help mitigate any potential spread of infection in our community and to protect the health of staff and participants.

“With growing anxiety and increased precautions unfolding across the landscape, we need to stay unified as a supportive community, and rethink how we can offer support to ensure the health and well-being of our participants, staff, volunteers and supporters,” said Julia Payson, Executive Director for CMHA Vernon.

“Everything we stand for is about connecting people to community. The circumstances we are facing will not stop us from doing that, but it will change the way we do things for now,” she said.

Based on the latest information received from the Provincial Health Office and the federal and provincial government, CMHA Vernon is taking the following steps to continue its most critical programs, effective immediately for at least the next two weeks:

Providing phone-based and/or online support in place of drop-in and group activities including Men’s Shed, fitness and recreation, peer support and educational courses for youth and adults.
Providing take-out lunches to participants of the Kitchen and Nutrition program.

“By transitioning many of our in-person services to online and phone support, we can continue to help those most vulnerable in our community. People who have been marginalized due to illness, need to know they are not alone and are still connected to people and a community that deeply cares for their well-being.”

The Good Morning daily check-in for isolated individuals and the 24/7 Crisis Line and Online Crisis Chat will continue operations as usual.

“These programs are especially important during this time with fears and uncertainty taking hold,” said Payson.

The Crisis Line service is provided by trained community volunteers and supportive staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1.888.353.2273 (CARE).

“Unfortunately, we are unable to offer some of our community education programming due to the inability to provide online versions,” said Payson. The Mental Health First Aid training scheduled for March 24 and 25 has been postponed with registrants being offered refunds or credits. CMHA is exploring virtual delivery of other courses.

The popular CMHA social enterprise, Georgette Thrift Shop, will be closed to the public until further notice. The Georgette has been a Vernon mainstay since 1966 with proceeds supporting CMHA programs.

For inquiries about programs and services, please call 250.542.3114 between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

CMHA Vernon has set up a webpage noting changes to its services along with resources and tips for mental health and wellness.

“We are also asking for everyone who is able, to reach out and connect with two people they know but haven’t spoken with, particularly those who live alone, or have health conditions,” said Payson. “There is no risk in phone calls, emails or texts… and we need to keep our community connected.”

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