British Columbia

Free therapy available for B.C. health-care workers through new volunteer initiative

A Victoria therapist and counsellor has teamed up with a local online marketer to create a website that matches front-line workers with counsellors and therapists who are donating their time and expertise. 

'They're going to be needing support for a long time,' says Victoria-based therapist

Free therapy sessions are available to front-line health-care workers, including ambulance attendants, nurse aides, pharmacists, doctors and more. (Shutterstock)

A Victoria therapist and counsellor has teamed up with a local online marketer to create a website that matches front-line workers with free options for therapy. 

Corrinne Allyson said she wanted to do something to help health-care workers like doctors, nurses, long-term care workers, and anyone else working on the front lines during the COVID-19 crisis.

"When you're in this kind of situation, the nervous system has to ramp up. These people are running on adrenaline. They are running on fear and anxiety," Allyson told host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.

She says even as things wind down, these workers are more susceptible to depression, grief and exhaustion.

"So they're going to be needing support for a long time," she said. 

She partnered up with online marketer Ross Dunn to create covid19therapy.ca, a website that matches health-care workers with counsellors and therapists who are donating their time and expertise. 

Anyone who asks for a referral will be given three registered therapists from across B.C. to choose from. They can choose which one they want and can get up to three virtual — phone or online — sessions free with that counsellor.

It is up to each individual counsellor-client pair to decide whether they want to continue their relationship beyond those sessions.

"We have over 120 [volunteer] counsellors registered and we just started putting it out to the health-care workers. Those are starting to come in," said Allyson.

Dunn, whose wife is an ICU nurse, said he can tell health-care workers are under a lot of stress. 

"I hope they won't be too stoic and won't take advantage of it," he said. 

Allyson says she knows some medical professionals might already have access to some mental health supports, but others — who may be part-time — might not.

In addition, she said some might not feel comfortable going through human resources.

"They often don't want people to know they need help ... This way, they've got that confidentiality," she said.

Allyson said she hopes front-line workers take up the service. 

"There's support out there for them and people who really care."

Listen to the interview from All Points West here:

Many people are feeling mentally strained by the pandemic, and front-line healthcare workers are bearing the brunt of stress and trauma. That's why Victoria therapist and counsellor, Corrinne Allyson decided to step in. She teamed up with a local online marketer, Ross Dunn, to create covid19therapy.ca. The website matches front-line workers like nurses or doctors with free options for therapy. They both spoke with Kathryn Marlow. 6:50

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca

With files from All Points West

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