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Calls to Okanagan crisis line increase for those over 40

Kelowna Community Resources said more middle- and senior-aged residents are calling for help

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, calls to crisis lines continue to climb.

According to Kelowna Community Resources (KCR) crisis line coordinator Michelle Neimes, they haven’t seen a significant increase in call volume between September and October, but the number of calls remains high.

She said there has been a change in the intensity of the calls.

“We are seeing an increased intensity with people self-managing anxiety, isolation, financial and emotional stress,” she said.

In a previous interview, Interior Crisis Line Network (ICLN) program director Asha Croggon said at the start of the pandemic, they saw a 30 per cent increase in call volume, with some weeks reaching a 50 per cent increase.

“We’ve also seen an increase in call intensity, which means people have greater escalations. So definitely, we get more violent calls, more suicide-related calls, and calls related to past sexual trauma and that can be because during a traumatic event such as a global pandemic, it can trigger some of our trauma responses that relate to other experiences in life,” Croggon said.

While there hasn’t been a significant change in call volume, Neimes did confirm that there has been a change in who uses the crisis lines.

“The crisis line is being used by individuals of all ages… but there has been an increase in individuals who are between the ages of 40 and 75.”

Croggon has previously said this is due to the economic uncertainty brought on by pandemic restrictions, as well as isolation due to gathering and visitation restrictions.

Neimes is offering some helpful tips for individuals who may be struggling during this time.

  • Interact safely with others and reach out for phone/online connections; physical distancing doesn’t mean emotional distancing
  • Recognize the stress alarms (increased irritability or sadness, tension in your body, problems remembering or difficulty focusing) and engage in self-care
  • Create a self-care plan (who you’ll connect with, what you’ll do for yourself, where you’ll reach out for more support
  • Call the crisis line to get help working out a self-care plan
  • Be compassionate with yourself and others; be kind to one another and now you are not alone

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available at 1-888-353-2273.

READ: Increase in calls due to pandemic: Interior Crisis Line Network


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

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