Lesley Lutes, UBCO professor of psychology and director of the Centre for Obesity and Well-being Research Excellence. (Submitted)

Lesley Lutes, UBCO professor of psychology and director of the Centre for Obesity and Well-being Research Excellence. (Submitted)

UBCO psychologist part of Bell Let’s Talk virtual panel tonight at 6 p.m.

Panel will talk about coping under the stress of this pandemic

As part of Bell Let’s Talk Day, a UBCO professor of psychology and other clinical psychologists are hosting a virtual mental health panel tonight, Wednesday, Jan. 27 starting at 6 p.m.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 38 per cent of Canadians say their mental health has declined due to COVID-19—indicating that now, more than ever, people need to feel empowered and comfortable asking for help.

“Every person has been affected in some way by COVID-19,” says UBCO’s Lesley Lutes, a psychology professor in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and director of CORE. “Our new normal isn’t normal, and it’s OK to not be feeling like our usual selves today or any day.”

The event takes place on the eve of Bell Let’s Talk Day—a mental health awareness initiative launched by the company to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

Lutes, alongside her UBC and community colleagues, have joined the conversation by organizing a panel event to provide a safe space for community members to learn about mental health, and this year, ask anonymous questions to clinical psychologists from the comfort of their homes.

The 90-minute virtual session will cover a number of topics including COVID-19, social media, substance misuse and prioritizing self-care. Advice will also be given on how to become more comfortable with mental health dialogue.

Lutes says attendees can expect an open, honest, meaningful discussion on what stress, burnout and risk looks and feels like, effective coping strategies, how to improve mental wellness and services that are available locally to support BC residents.

READ MORE: Learning to listen for Bell’s Let’s Talk

“We, as a society, have been through so much this past year. But sadly, suffering, loss, trauma, abuse and tragedy are not new—we just see and feel it more because of what’s been happening,” says Lutes. “What if it took all of this to finally realize that everyone deserves to feel loved, supported, and valued and that nobody should suffer any longer?”

Lutes will also be announcing, in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Scott Lear, the launch of a social media competition aimed to encourage British Columbians to share the ways they are staying socially connected, reaching out and providing support for people’s mental health during the current challenges of COVID-19.

“Let’s make all of this matter. Let’s make the events of the past year be the reason to finally make that call or reach out for help. And remember, no matter how insurmountable something may seem, just know that you are not alone. Everyone needs support. Everyone.”

Those interested in attending the event are invited to register and submit their questions anonymously by clicking here.

On Jan. 28, Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell Canada will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long-distance call, tweet or TikTok video using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. It will also donate five cents for every Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Day Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.

READ MORE: No out-of-province quarantine allowed

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