New mental health program aimed at helping people facing winter blues, pandemic anxiety

New Brunswick has introduced a new program aimed at helping people with mild to moderate anxiety and depression.

The program, called BounceBack, will link people having mental health issues with experts who can help them.

Christa Baldwin, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, said the isolation and hardship caused by the pandemic is difficult enough. Combine that with everyday mental health issues, and this program is made all the more necessary.

“We are 10 months into this pandemic and we are into our winter,” said Baldwin. 

“When we look at things like seasonal affective disorder and depression and all of those mental health concerns, that may be more exaggerated during this time of the year, this provides another tool for people in our province.”

People can be referred to the program by a medical professional, or they can self-refer through CMHA.

Christa Baldwin, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick, said the isolation and hardship caused by the pandemic is difficult enough, and combined with everyday mental health issues make this program all the more necessary. (CBC)

They will be contacted by a program coach within five days, who will try to get them back on the road to better mental health.

“We have … over 20 different workbooks that deal with different topics,” said Baldwin. 

“The participants can design the program in collaboration with their coach to really make it very specific to what they are struggling with.”

Because of the pandemic, the coaching sessions are being done over the phone.

More demand

Baldwin said the program should help with a growing waiting list for mental health services, taking some people out of the queue, and enabling people with more severe mental health issues easier access to services.

“This kind of program works with individuals that are mild to moderate depression,” said Baldwin. 

“They’re not at that risk of suicide that people really should be having a different type of support through a psychiatrist or through the formal system.”

Baldwin said the COVID pandemic, along with a general greater focus on mental health, has changed the discussion about mental health.

“it’s not necessarily about having a mental illness diagnosis. It’s really not finding true joy at this time. And this is a program that can help move you forward to find that joy and to see the good things that are happening in life.”

Baldwin said that search has more people coming to CMHA for help.

“If I go back five years ago, we were working with about 25,000 New Brunswickers annually … last year, we provided support to over 86,000 New Brunswickers,” said Baldwin. 

“So people are reaching out more than ever before and that’s just intensified during this pandemic.”
 

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