May 30, 2016 2:57 pm

New mental health hotline launched for Okanagan families

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KELOWNA — One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). It’s the organization’s mission to help people get the right level of support at the right time and that’s why the Kelowna branch has launched a new program to help families in the interior looking for mental health support.

CMHA Kelowna along with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) announced Monday the launch of its Supporting Our Families: Interior Region Family Navigation Project.

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“This is an important resource for families who may not know where to turn for help,” said CMHA Kelowna executive director, Shelagh Turner in a news release.

Director of community engagement and fundraising, Candace Giesbrecht, said the project will make access to mental health and substance use supports more accessible. That means parents and caregivers with kids up to age 25, who are unsure how to find mental health services or information about mental health and substance use issues, can now call a toll-free number to connect with a family navigator.

“The family navigator will listen to concerns, find out what supports are needed, and then assist the caller in finding relevant, local community resources,” said Giesbrecht.

The family navigator will be based in the central Okanagan; click here to learn how to get in touch, or you can call 1-844-234-6663.

“This project is intended to help families across the interior region to relieve some of the pressure and help to find the appropriate services,” said executive director of Mental Health and Substance Use for IHA, David Harrhy.

Giesbrecht says the family navigator is the first part of the project to launch. She says CMHA Kelowna along with seven other branches of the organization in the interior will be offering Take a Break Support Groups.

“The groups will offer opportunities for caregivers to meet others in similar situations, share experiences and discuss strategies for skills such as coping, boundary setting and communication,” said Giesbrecht.

CMHA Kelowna will be releasing more information about the support groups in the coming months.

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