Care Before Crisis

#GetLoud for Care Before Crisis

Universal changes—such as school closures, non-essential service shutdowns, and physical distancing—have impacted the entire population, with many feeling isolated, anxious, worried, and having difficulties coping.[1],[2]

A national survey conducted by UBC researchers found that almost 40% of Canadians feel their mental health has worsened since the onset of the pandemic, with some experiencing more severe impacts than others.[3] In particular, low income residents, older adults[4] and groups already experiencing health and social harms. People struggling with their mental health prior to the pandemic are twice as likely to have harmed themselves, and three times more likely to have thoughts of suicide. Still many are not accessing in-person or virtual mental health care. [5]  

Overdose deaths are climbing too. The toxic illicit drug supply has fuelled a poisoning epidemic for over four years and now the added pressures of the pandemic have led to overdose rates increasing month-on-month—with the highest monthly numbers of overdose deaths ever recorded within the province.[6]

We need a continuum of mental health and substance use care that helps people at every stage of mental wellness or illness.

CMHA BC is calling for these commitments:

  1. Continue recent investments for prevention and early intervention services that target populations who are at a higher risk of developing a mental health or substance use problem due to impacts of the pandemic.
  2. Provide counselling and other proven therapies free at the point of use at primary care networks and through community-based organizations where people already access services
  3. Fund culturally-safe, community-driven wellness programs and practices that meet the mental health and substance use needs of underserved populations that encounter barriers to accessing clinical care
  4. Reinforce the public health approach to substance use that promotes health and equity for people who use drugs through decriminalization and pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic drug supply
  5. Implement a full evidence-based youth and adult substance use system of care that spans prevention, screening, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services.



[1] Mental Health Commission of Canada. (April 2020). Canadian report an increase in feeling stressed regularly for all the time now compared to one month before COVID-19: Summary Report. Polling conducted by Nanos. Retrieved from:

[2] Insights West. (April 2020). BC Residents Struggle with Mental Health as COVID-19 Pandemic Progresses. Retrieved from:

[3] Jenkins, E., Gadermann, A., & McAuliffe, C. (2020). COVID-19 effects on the mental health of vulnerable populations. Canadian Mental Health Association, University of British Columbia, maru/ matchbox, Mental Health Foundation, the agenda collaborative. Retrieved from:

[4] Armitage, R., & Nellums, L.B. (May 2020). COVID-19 and the consequences of isolating the elderly. Lancet Public Health, 5(5): e256.

[5] See note 3, Jenkins, E., Gadermann, A., & McAuliffe, C.

[6] BC Coroners Service. (August 2020). Illicit Drug Toxicity Deaths in BC: January 1, 2010 – August 31, 2020. Retrieved from:

Care before Crisis
Care Before Crisis
There is no recovery for BC without mental health. Vote #mentalhealth this #BCelxn2020 #bcpoli