While some people are enjoying their time at home, other community members may be struggling with the lack of connection and isolation that this crisis has brought to the forefront. In response to the need to help community members connect with each other and other supports and services that they may need, the City of Lethbridge and a number of community organizations have worked in collaboration to offer opportunities for all interested community members to support each other while observing rules on social distancing, to ensure that everyone in the community is aware of the mental health supports available to them.
The first opportunity to connect is a chance for those who are allowed to go outdoors, to deliver postcards to streets/neighborhoods that they sign up for. The Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group (LPIRG) is coordinating and overseeing this campaign, with support from Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Alberta South Region. It is recognized that one of the challenges during physical distancing is keeping in contact and getting information to people who do not use the internet. LPIRG is working to support neighbours connecting with neighbours by organizing folks in their own community to drop off postcards that share community resource information and contact numbers for those looking for supports. It may just be a friend to reach out to or if they wish to access more formal mental health programs. Interested community members can email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a route and copies of the postcard can be provided or individuals can download them from the City website at www.lethbridge.ca/covidsupport.
Wellness Checks for Community Members
A second campaign to support individuals who may feel disconnected, lonely or isolated during the COVID-19 is being coordinated by Volunteer Lethbridge, with support from CMHA, Alberta South Region. Verified volunteer community members are paired with lonely community members to receive a friendly wellness check phone call on a regular basis. Volunteers are screened for criminal record checks and provided with basic training as well as information on resources and referrals to appropriate organizations, when needed. Community members need only to connect with Volunteer Lethbridge to request a Wellness check phone call or to volunteer to call isolated community members at HelpingHands@VolunteerLethbridge.com or (403) 332-4320.
Wellness Checks for Community Organizations
For any organization in the community that has a membership list of any type, CMHA, Alberta South Region, has created a wellness check and information package that can be shared. As an organization, they know that in this time when mental health is truly challenged by isolation it is more important than ever that individuals not only have a place to turn, but someone to reach out to as well.
Working with HelpSeeker, Volunteer Lethbridge, Lethbridge Family Services and the Family Centre, CMHA Alberta South Region has developed a tool that uses best practices from services with decades of experience and knowledge. CMHA, Alberta South Region is coordinating the sharing of this tool to support any agency or group that may want to reach out to check in with their members. Knowing that most people have natural networks that they are a part of, this will help those networks have the support they need to reach out to one another with the confidence that there is someplace to turn if someone is in crisis. Organizations wishing to find out more should contact David at email@example.com
Beginning immediately residents can contact Volunteer Lethbridge to sign up to volunteer or receive supportive phone calls, sign up to deliver and/or watch for postcards with information at their door, and local organizations are encouraged to connect with CMHA, Alberta South Region to receive the tools to lead their own wellness call initiative to reach out to their members.
For Public Inquiries:
Call 311 | Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Chelsea Eastman, Volunteer Lethbridge
403-332-4320 (press 1)
David Gabert, CMHA, Alberta South Region
Jennifer Prosser, LPIRG
Lori Harasem, City of Lethbridge