Life can get on top of anyone at times, whether due to work-related issues, family worries, sleep difficulties or physical health problems. With the added social isolation of COVID restrictions, depression and anxiety are on the rise in B.C.
Luckily, BounceBack® – a free skill-building program designed to help boost mood and reclaim mental health – is available to adults and youth (15+) through the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The program is delivered online or over the phone, with a video series, over 20 skill-building workbooks, interactive worksheets, and one-on-one telephone coaching sessions, all available in a number of different languages.
“With BounceBack®, Canadians have access to a variety of flexible, adaptable tools to help manage low mood, depression, anxiety, stress and worry,” says Jonathan (Jonny) Morris, CEO of the CMHA’s B.C. division. “We have designed the program to be an empowering and practical way of learning key life skills that can get you on the right track and help you stay there.”
Learning new ways of living
BounceBack® participant Alicia was looking for something that would meet them on their terms. “Being able to do the program at home, where I felt safe and secure, and being able to do it around my schedule, was awesome,” they remember. “It was really life-changing for me. It showed me that I had a lot of strength and resilience in myself, and that with support I could get to a much happier and healthier place.”
Taryn came into the BounceBack® program overwhelmed from day-to-day demands. “I think one of the things I loved about it was working with the coach that I had,” she says. “She allowed me to see that my feelings were not something to remove, but to get to know in a different way.” Her advice? “Do it! It was so worth it.”
Youth and cross-cultural support
According to Morris, the CMHA is dedicated to ensuring the program meets diverse needs. “When we started developing a BounceBack® program for youth aged 15 to 18 years old, we knew right away that we couldn’t do it alone, and we made a commitment to ensure young people were at the very heart of how the program was designed, adopted, and promoted across the country,” he recalls. “Our Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) members have played a key role in developing the youth program – for youth, by youth.”
Morris also points to a recently completed pilot in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) as evidence of the CMHA’s commitment to cross-cultural mental health support. “Rather than just go off and deliver the program in Indigenous communities as is, the idea was to work in partnership with the FNHA to train a small number of their staff to take ownership of the delivery, and make sure the program was reflective of the needs of their clients,” he explains. FNHA employees not only gave important feedback on how to improve the program for Indigenous people, but also became BounceBack® coaches for their own communities.
With coaching sessions and workbooks available in English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese or Punjabi, and the video series also available in Farsi, BounceBack® strives to make mental health support as linguistically accessible as possible. “Our goal is to improve our reach into diverse cultural communities, and work alongside them as partners,” says Morris.
The power to change
More than 11,000 Canadians have used BounceBack® services so far, with 90 per cent stating they would recommend to family and friends, and 85 per cent believing they would be able to maintain the changes they made in the future.
Morris wants people to know that whatever they are feeling during the pandemic, their responses are normal. “All the experiences of feeling stressed, feeling worried, feeling concerned – they are about very real things,” he says. “They are typical responses amidst the incredibly atypical, abnormal circumstances we are all facing.”
Morris also believes that with the right tools and practice, anyone has the power to make beneficial changes. “When life gets to be too much, remember that you can change how you feel – and we are here to help,” he says.
Access BounceBack® by creating an online account at www.bouncebackbc.ca.
All programs are free and do not require parent/guardian permission to participate.