In 2020, an unexpected pandemic forced many around the world to experience unprecedented economic and psychological crises. The Canadian Chinese Mandarin Mental Health Crisis Intervention Project, funded by The Canadian Government Emergency Community Relief Fund and the Canadian Red Cross, organized by the Centre for New Immigrant Well-Being, Wellness Counselling Centre for Youth Canada and WeSupport, was officially launched on August 30th, 2020, lasting for a period of three months.
Due to the massive amount of false information about the pandemic on social media platforms, many Chinese people faced social prejudice and racial discrimination. The spreading epidemic caused many families to experience enormous amounts of pressure, worry, fear, worsening family conflict, with feelings of helplessness and anxiety growing day by day. Many Chinese people are unable to effectively utilize the resources provided by the Canadian Government and their local community because of the language barrier.
The mission of the Canadian Chinese Mandarin Mental Health Crisis Intervention Project is to provide free emotional support and professional psychotherapy for Canadian Chinese residents, including three stages: prevention, intervention, and treatment.
- For the prevention process, the WeSupport Mutual Aid planform utilized interactive activities and self-help to provide immediate online emotional support to WeChat group members. They also hosted a series of workshops to disseminate knowledge related to mental illnesses, rebuilding mental resilience, and improving mental health.
- In terms of intervention, The Mandarin Mental Health Hotline helped provide online support and mental health counseling for 12 hours per day.
- For the treatment stage, a professional psychotherapy team offered one on one free mental health counseling and treatment. This program is focused on helping Chinese people living in Canada who have been affected by the pandemic, including those who are already taking care of family members with mental health issues.
The goal of this project is to help 1000 Chinese members, especially those heavily impacted by the pandemic, within three months of time. This project has attracted widespread attention in the Chinese community. Since the Mandarin Mental Health Hotline opened, callers do not only include residents in the Greater Toronto Area, but also residents living in other Canadian provinces and the United States. Even some living in China called requesting assistance after discovering the existence of the hotline. Some are mothers who lost their partner during the pandemic and are forced to raise their young child alone, whereas others are young adults who have lost their job and are alone in an unfamiliar country without any family members. Many are parents battling the conflict between their mental stress and their child’s education, and some others are struggling against the agony of anxiety and depression. Some have lost all hope in life from the emotional and economic impacts they suffered. The hotline operators listened carefully to every call, provided emotional support, resolved the crisis, and directed them to community programs and resources with Mandarin services. To ensure the quality of services, the Hotline operators received weekly training to ensure they provide effective and professional support to the callers.
In the three months of the Project, it has helped many people resolve family and work crises, rebuilt mental resilience, and allowed many of those tormented by depression and anxiety to walk out of the shadows and regain their mental strengths. Many beneficiaries called back on the hotline reflecting the effectiveness of the treatment and requested further assistance. This program has provided much needed professional mental health support and treatment for the Chinese community, allowing those who has gone through the treatment to no longer feel lonely or despaired. Towards the end of the hotline program, there were still many calls for help and the callers were concerned about the project’s continuation, including anonymous callers willing to fund the hotline to continue its service for the Chinese community. The gratefulness of the callers and their fresh mental starting line has given every team member and the project managing team a sincere feeling of gratitude, and an appreciation of the usefulness and value of the community service.
The first phase of the Canadian Chinese Mandarin Mental Health Crisis Intervention Project ended reluctantly on November 21st, 2020, with great appreciation from the Chinese community. At the moment the WeSupport Canadian Chinese Mental Health Mutual Aid Platform is still running under a team of dedicated volunteers. With the support of the management, therapist, and support teams, the WeSupport Mini Sun volunteer team has been operating 7 days a week to provide timely emotional and practical support to our WeChat group members, shares mental health resources, and continues to serve the Chinese community.
Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team
Project Director: Lydia Yang
Project Manager: Helen Cao
Mental Health Specialist Team Manager: Liping Peng
Mandarin Hotline Project Coordinator: Jun Zhang
Hello! My name is Kevin, and I’m a grade 11 student who loves helping others as a life goal. I enjoy reading books and listening to music, as well as trying to write stories and music.