Smoke, evacuations, loss, worry—BC’s wildfires affect us all. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you are not alone. Here are some things you can do:
- Connect with CMHA – Reach out to your local CMHA branch. Many branches offer services to help you take care and feel less alone. In particular, thanks to a grant from the Canadian Red Cross, CMHA South Cariboo, CMHA Northern BC and CMHA Cariboo Chilcotin branches are offering a range of education workshops and courses. The latter two branches are also offering extra counselling services for those affected by environmental disaster stress.
- Prepare – Having a clear emergency plan and kit ready for your family, pets, and livestock can ease your mind and allow you to focus on other needs.
- Take care – Stress takes a toll on our physical and mental health. Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep lowers stress and helps us cope.
- Ask for help – Talking helps. Whether it’s with family, friends, a doctor or counsellor. Crisis lines are available to listen and help anytime—not just during a crisis. If you have been evacuated, you can also ask an Emergency Support Services volunteer about the mental health or counselling support available to you.
- Help others – Reach out to the vulnerable. Assisting others can help us regain a sense of purpose and community as we confront challenges together.
Helpful links and resources
Preparing for wildfires
- Get prepared for a wildfire in BC (Government of BC)
Health and mental health resources
- Coping with an environmental emergency – mental health tips for you and your family
- Recognizing and addressing trauma and anxiety during wildfire season (First Nations Health Authority)
- Recognizing and resolving trauma in children during disasters (First Nations Health Authority)
- Disaster emotional response timeline – what to expect before, during and after a disaster
- Your health during a wildfire (Government of BC)
- Wildfire smoke and health (BC Centre for Disease Control)
- Guidebook for Well-being in Recovery (Red Cross)
Direct help for support
- Free, confidential support and crisis lines available 24/7:
- Find virtual mental health supports available in BC
- BounceBack – a free skill-building program for overcoming low mood, anxiety stress or worry
- Find your local Canadian Mental Health Association
Information provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association in partnership with the Province of BC, First Nations Health Authority, Interior Health, Northern Health and Provincial Health Services Authority. Expanded 2023 counselling and education workshops by CMHA Northern BC, CMHA South Cariboo, and CMHA Cariboo-Chilcotin branches provided through the support of the Canadian Red Cross.