Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ territories | August 19, 2021 – United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI) is one-third of the way to its goal of raising $1 Million by December 2021 to benefit community mental health services, many which are oversubscribed due to the pandemic.
Almost half of Vancouver Islanders reported worsening mental health over the past 18 months, according to the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health, and UWSVI is looking to help fill the gaps through its Blue Love Campaign.
“On Southern Vancouver Island, we’re hearing that barriers for people seeking mental health support include long waitlists or limited service hours,” said Mark Breslauer, CEO at UWSVI. “We are pleased to support 12 agencies along with a new pilot project between Connections Place and Umbrella Society to provide both addictions and mental health support for community members as they leave the hospital or psychiatric treatment.”
The Concurrent Outreach Support Team (COST) takes a collaborative approach in offering comprehensive support that meet both addiction recovery and mental health needs once an individual leaves a hospital setting. Prior to the creation of COST, there have been limited services available in the community to address the combination of both addictions and mental health.
“Despite the massive overlap, individuals experiencing mental health and substance use issues are often required to access separate services for each issue,” said Sharlene Law, Executive Director, Umbrella Society. “Umbrella and Connections Place have collaborated to create a community-based team that supports and treats everyone as a whole person. We’ve long expressed frustration at the continuous disconnect between these two issues. Thanks to United Way’s Blue Love Campaign, we’ve created COST to address this disconnect, with peers from both organizations working together to provide support, connection and solutions.”
“This project leverages both Umbrella and Connections Place’s strengths to offer clients being discharged from psychiatric emergency services to receive the concurrent support they need. The team meets people where they are at and helps them to stabilize, find resources and stay connected while they navigate their community, with the goal to increase a client’s recovery success,” Chris Forester, Executive Director, Connections Place.
COST is only one example of what’s possible through the Blue Love Campaign. With mental health services already stretched before the pandemic, the demand has continued to surge; for some services, by as much as 50 per cent. The need will only continue to grow as the community prepares for a potential fourth wave of the pandemic.
To learn more about UWSVI’s mental health community partners and ways to support the Blue Love Campaign, please visit: uwsvi.ca/bluelovecampaign. All donations up to $100K will be matched by Proud Presenting Partner: Peninsula Co-op. Thank you to additional corporate partners to date: Abstract Development, Country Grocer, Cold Star, and RBC Foundation as well as all the individual donors who have stepped up to support this important campaign.
Other Blue Love grantees include: Family Services of Greater Victoria, Hulitan Family Services, Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre, Mental Health Recovery Partners, NEED2 Suicide Prevention, Education & Support, Pacific Centre Family Services, South Island Counselling, Sooke Family Resource Society, Vancouver Island Men’s Therapy Centre, Esquimalt Neighbourhood House, Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees.
UNITED WAY BACKGROUNDER
United Way Southern Vancouver Island (formerly United Way Greater Victoria) is a trusted leader, influencer and catalyst for change. United, we accelerate change to improve the lives of our neighbours who need it most, making our local community stronger. We believe everyone in Greater Victoria, which includes 13 municipalities and 11 First Nations and the Southern Gulf Islands should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Our priorities are focused on assisting isolated seniors; families in need; diversity, equity and inclusion; and individuals struggling with mental health challenges and/or addictions. Last fiscal year, United Way raised $6.2 million thanks to over 7,000 donors and 200 workplaces opening their offices to run employee giving programs. Through our community partnerships, over 125,000 people on Southern Vancouver Island received support. Show your local love today by making a gift to United Way at www.uwsvi.ca