United Way Greater Victoria’s Blue Love Campaign shines a light on ways to support mental health in our community

The 70th annual Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week is May 3 – 9

 Victoria, BC (May 3, 2021) – United Way Greater Victoria encourages Vancouver Islanders to support its Blue Love Campaign for Mental Health and the many ways it will fund much-needed services and programs for those facing mental illness in our community.

As the world passed the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mental Health Week (May 3-9) in 2021 is as timely as ever, with almost half of Vancouver Islanders reporting worsening mental health due to the pandemic, according to the BCCDC Foundation for Public Health. The Blue Love Campaign aims to raise $1 Million by the end of December 2021 to fund counselling, peer support and outreach services across southern Vancouver Island as well as to raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma.

“Due to COVID-19, we’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in youth wanting to chat over youthspace.ca. The youth we serve are feeling isolated and tell us that the pandemic has made existing mental health issues more challenging to navigate,” said Maria Weaver, Acting Executive Director, NEED2. “We have also received triple the amount of requests for community workshops, particularly from community members looking for ways to support loved ones during these turbulent times. Being a part of the Blue Love Campaign means United Way and donors would be able to help NEED2 address the demand and provide valuable suicide prevention services to our local youth, which in some cases is literally lifesaving.”

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Week is ‘understanding our emotions’. People are experiencing unprecedented stress and anxiety related to COVID-19, and expressing our emotions – even when they are uncomfortable emotions – can improve mental and physical health, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

On southern Vancouver Island, barriers for people seeking mental health support include long waitlists or limited service hours, which can further discourage someone from seeking help during a time of crisis. With this additional $1 Million, the mental health charitable sector could hire up 15 outreach/peer support workers or counsellors to provide help to approximately 9,000 to 15,000 adults, families, children or youth facing mental health challenges.

“It isn’t easy to reach out for mental health support. In those moments where we find the courage to reach out for help, it can be discouraging to know that you might end up on a waitlist for a number of months,” said Nick Sandor, Executive Director, Men’s Therapy Centre. “Even at the best of times, community-based mental health services are often overwhelmed by the need for mental health support. This is especially true during COVID-19. Through the Blue Love Campaign, United Way and donors will help Men’s Therapy Centre recruit more mental health professionals, ensure community members know about our services, and find ways to ensure people don’t fall through the cracks.”

Funds raised from the campaign will benefit community partners like Connections Place; 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 Centre for Counselling & Training; Sooke Family Resource Society; and Vancouver Island Men’s Therapy Centre.

“Consistent funding is a mainstay of any non-profit and Citizens’ Counselling Centre is no exception. To keep our services running smoothly we rely on community partners like United Way,” said Laura Hutcheson, Special Projects Coordinator, Citizens’ Counselling Centre. “Even as the effects of being in a pandemic ease over the next year, the resulting stress, grief, and anxiety will be felt by our community for the foreseeable future. Our wait list existed before the pandemic and it is ever-growing. We strive to serve our clients as quickly and suitably as possible, having stable funding allows us to do this.”

With a lead gift of $100,000 from United Way’s Presenting Partner Peninsula Co-op, every dollar donated will be matched up to $100,000. People can support the Blue Love Campaign for Mental Health by donating today at uwgv.ca/bluelovecampaign

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About United Way Greater Victoria

United Way is a trusted leader, influencer and catalyst for change. In response to COVID-19, we are focusing our efforts on urgent community needs such as mental health outreach services and counselling, meals and companionship for isolated seniors, and essentials for families in need. 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 should have the opportunity to reach their potential. Our vision is to build a safe and resilient community where happiness and belonging connect us.

Media Contacts:

Heather Skydt

Director, Marketing & Communications
United Way Greater Victoria
heather@uwgv.ca
Mobile: 250-686-3606
Office: 250-984-2269

Kathryn Wu
Account Manager
Beattie Tartan
Kathryn.Wu@beattiegroup.com
Mobile: 604-968-5153