Thaddée Bergler is the program manager of Fraser Health Crisis Line, operated by Options Community Services in Surrey. (submitted photo)

Thaddée Bergler is the program manager of Fraser Health Crisis Line, operated by Options Community Services in Surrey. (submitted photo)

More people are calling Fraser Health Crisis Line, with more volunteers willing to listen

COVID-related issues on the rise for those who dial B.C.’s busiest crisis line

The phones of Fraser Health Crisis Line are ringing more often these days, compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

COVID-19 is considered the cause of a 12-per-cent spike in call volume for the Surrey-based service, which involves the help of close to 150 well-trained volunteers.

A research survey of B.C. residents commissioned by Pacific Blue Cross reveals 37 per cent of respondents are depressed or anxious, but just 15 per cent seek counselling support.

The Fraser Health Crisis Line, a program of Options Community Services, offers free, confidential emotional support, crisis intervention, and community resource information for any concern, including mental health and substance use.

The numbers to call are 604-951-8855 or toll-free, 1-877-820-7444 — any time of day, 365 days a year.

It’s the busiest crisis line in B.C., fielding close to 50,000 calls annually in the Fraser Health region.

The program is managed by Thaddée Bergler for Options Community Services, at a call centre in the Whalley area.

“About 20 per cent of the calls we take have some aspect of it that is COVID-related, whether it’s the main concern or some side issue prompting another issue for someone,” Bergler said on Wednesday (Nov. 18).

“What we’re finding is that people in the community with a mental illness, and maybe already live isolated lives, they’re facing an additional challenge to their everyday life with COVID and less opportunities to socialize and get support.”

Some people call the crisis line on a regular basis, Bergler noted.

“Unfortunately there are some people in the community that the only type of social interaction they have is through the crisis line, and sometimes a phone call with one of our volunteers is what gets them through the day.”

The Pacific Blue Cross-commissioned study, involving 800 B.C. adults polled by Insights West from Sept. 16-24, suggests that since the pandemic hit, B.C. crisis lines have experienced a 27-per-cent increase in call volume, with more people seeking support for anxiety (47 per cent increase), depression (40 per cent increase) or loneliness or social isolation (24 per cent).

The volunteers of Fraser Health Crisis Line are trained to deal with such issues – and more people are signing up to volunteer right now, according to Bergler.

”We always are (looking for volunteers),” he said, “but actually since the start of COVID we’ve seen a significant interest in volunteering with us. We’re almost inundated right now with people who are interested.

“We’ve hypothesized a couple of reasons why,” Bergler continued, “and I think with COVID there are a lot less volunteer opportunities out there, and ours is essential. We need to continue our service and we rely on volunteers to do that. And I think we have a really good reputation in the community, so people who want to get their start in the helping field, whether it’s police, being a doctor, a therapist, these are the kinds of skills and experiences they want to have under their belt when they enter those programs or jobs, to pursue those careers.”

The crisis line aims to have between 140 and 160 volunteers available, “and maybe 170 is the ceiling of what we can have, with the staff team we have in place to provide support and supervision,” Bergler noted.

“It’s gotta be a fit for the right kind of person to do it, with our training program. (Volunteers) have to demonstrate certain levels of skills we require, with a knowledge piece and of course an attitudinal piece. There’s an active screening process we have in place.”

The PBC Health Foundation recently donated $10,000 to Fraser Health Crisis Line for additional staffing, PPE, cleaning supplies and equipment.

Bergler said that right now, the agency is not set up for volunteers to take calls from their homes.

“They all still do it from our work site at Options,” he said. “At our quietest hours we’ll have two (volunteers), and in our busiest hours (from 7 to 11 p.m.) we will have a minimum four, and during some transition between shifts, the most we can have is nine at one time.”

For now, the phone is the only line of communication.

“Online is not something we’re looking at doing, at the moment,” Bergler said. “Right now we’re focusing on what we can do, and do well. There are a lot of challenges that come with delivering this service via text or online.”

More details about Fraser Health Crisis Line, including volunteer opportunities, are posted to options.bc.ca. Orientation sessions are planned on Zoom in coming weeks, including one on Nov. 29.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Coronavirusmental healthsuicide crisis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of Nov. 23

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Sept. 10, 2020 — In the photo is a W.L. McLeod student wearing a mask in a school bus, on his first day back-to-school. This year, due to COVID-19, students will have a different year than most. The President of B.C. Teachers’ Federation told Black Press Sept. 9, that she had a lot of mixed feeling about how ready the education system is for students to be coming back-to-school. Meanwhile, Libby Hart, Principal of W.L. Mcleod Elementary School in Vanderhoof said,” We know some of the families are still unsure, but most of our families have been great in connecting with us and talking to us.” Photos continued on Page 7. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
‘Significant’ changes coming to Fraser Health school exposure notices, says Surrey superintendent

Jordan Tinney tweeted that there will be 3 letters sent out to a school community

Shawn Canil, a Cloverdale-area resident, turns heads with the truck he’s decorated for Christmas. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Truck’s Christmas decorations lift spirits on Cloverdale man’s commute

‘When I see them smiling, I know it’s worth it,’ pickup driver Shawn Canil says

Ben “Santa” Cohen visits Ecole Martha Currie in Cloverdale Dec. 4. Santa wished everyone a socially-distanced Merry Christmas out in front of the school. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Santa visits Ecole Martha Currie in Cloverdale

First gig of the season for Ben ‘Santa’ Cohen; COVID driving most gigs online

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack mother upset about son’s alleged suicide attempt after hospital discharge

Rhonda Clough said 34-year-old son suffering with bipolar disorder should have been kept in hospital

Most Read