Gift of Hope helps those struggling with mental health in Vernon

Canadian Mental Health Association raising funds to sponsor those in need

Canadian Mental Health Association’s Lenai Schmidt, manager of wellness and rehabilitation programs, is hoping the community will help fill the Gift of Hope wishes. (CMHA Vernon photo)

Canadian Mental Health Association’s Lenai Schmidt, manager of wellness and rehabilitation programs, is hoping the community will help fill the Gift of Hope wishes. (CMHA Vernon photo)

A sharp spike in calls to Vernon’s Crisis Line in March hasn’t eased up, therefore the Gift of Hope is being sought.

The annual Gift of Hope campaign allows those who are able to financially give to sponsor an individual or a program at the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon and District branch.

“We are in a time of great need as this pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of many of us,” executive director Julia Payson said. “But we are here to bring hope and help, and to let our community members know that they are not alone.”

Donations help support local individuals and families across the mental health spectrum, from youth as young as seven to seniors 75 and older.

“Our team has been dedicated to adapting our programs, including adding new programming over the past nine months to ensure our community continues to receive services and to ensure supports are in place for the increased demand we are experiencing.”

CMHA has received generous support from the community that enabled the organization to tackle the incredible challenges the pandemic brought this year.

“We have continued to build connections and community for those living with mental health issues and their families who support them. Physical distancing hasn’t meant social isolation for so many individuals and families in our community,” said Payson.

Community donations help support the Crisis Line, which CMHA Vernon operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round.

Calls to the Crisis Line saw a sharp spike in March due to the pandemic, which carried on throughout the year. By October, calls had doubled from the same time last year.

READ MORE: Calls to Vernon’s Crisis Line jump 63 per cent amid COVID-19

Youth education, early intervention and suicide prevention programs are 100 per cent dependent on community support and donations. “For those who are able to help financially, we want them to know their donations go a long way,” said Payson.

•$25 can sponsor a mental health education course for low-income parents

• $50 can support a youth or senior to join a mental health fitness course for a month

• $100 can provide a youth with peer support and life skills for two months

• $250 can sponsor a suicide prevention course for parents and caregivers

Donations to CMHA Vernon & District can be made online at www.cmhavernon.ca, or by mail at 3100 28 Ave., Vernon, B.C. V1T 1W3.

READ MORE: Restorative Justice joins forces with Vernon agency


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