Lanny Hellewell
by Lanny Hellewell
Clinical Coordinator, Chilliwack Mental Health and Substance Use Centre

“COVID-19 has been a good push to use technology and move with the future, expanding how we reach and care for our clients.”

“I’m a clinical coordinator primarily for the Adult Community Support Services and the Older Adult Mental Health teams at the Chilliwack Mental Health and Substance Use Centre. The Centre is a trusted and safe place in the community for our clients to access the services they need to support their mental health. Attention to mental health and wellness during a stressful time like a pandemic is even more prevalent than ever. COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing measures led to a dramatic and urgent change with how we connected with our clients. We moved group therapy sessions online. The team would do more one-to-one phone calls with clients and connect with them by email – we needed to make sure there was no disconnect with care. In fact, many clients preferred communicating this way. Many clinicians did too and felt they could offer even more support through texts or weekly emails to clients with resources, handouts and web links to services in the community they could access. There was a lot of engagement with clients and that was a real positive for the team. Having these new options has been great for many clients. Some have poor mobility or have challenges getting to the Centre physically so this is easier for them. Some of our clients don’t trust technology or have access to it at all, so we are still welcoming them to the Centre if that approach doesn’t work. A collaboration success story is with our Intensive Case Management team. Our Intensive Case Management team predominantly looks after people with substance use issues and provides on-the-ground outreach in the community by connecting with clients in their environment. They’ve been able to check on clients in the community and even Zoom them in with a psychiatrist in some cases. We’ve seen a higher demand for our services of late. These are hard times for people and it’s been challenging for us as a team. We stay focused on client care and supporting each other. COVID-19 has been a good push to use technology and move with the future, expanding how we reach and care for our clients.”