Canadian Red Cross Receives $8.5 Million for Mental Health Support
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Canadian Red Cross Receives $8.5 Million for Mental Health Support

The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $8.5 million to the Canadian Red Cross to support people’s mental health nationwide. The funding will be used to expand the Red Cross’ Friendly Calls program, which pairs a trained Red Cross team member with an adult who could benefit from the greater connection or may have limited social and family links. The program aims to enhance social connectedness and wellbeing, focusing on reaching older adults, Indigenous peoples, frontline workers, parents, caregivers and anyone who may benefit from increased access to regular emotional support, social interaction, enhanced coping skills and community connections to other existing support.

The Canadian Red Cross is a humanitarian organization serving Canadians for over 100 years. Founded in 1896, the Canadian Red Cross was established to relieve those affected by disasters and conflict. Since then, the organization has expanded its mandate to include health and wellness programs, including mental health support.

As we recognize Mental Health Week 2023, this investment is critical in supporting Canadians with mental health, particularly those disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. This announcement is part of a $100 million investment provided in Budget 2021 to support projects that promote mental health and prevent mental illness in populations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Friendly Calls program is one such program that the Canadian Red Cross has developed to support the mental health of Canadians. The program provides emotional support and social interaction through the power of human connection. The program is safe, accessible and free and is available nationwide. Anyone 18 or older can sign up or learn more by calling 1-833-979-9779 toll-free from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time on weekdays or at redcross.ca/friendlycalls.

The Government of Canada’s investment in the Friendly Calls program is part of a broader commitment to improve mental health and wellness services for Canadians. The government’s plan to invest nearly $200 Billion over ten years will improve health care services for Canadians, reduce surgical backlogs, support health workers, and improve integrated mental health and substance use services.

Supporting the mental health of all Canadians, including those already facing disproportionate challenges to their mental health, must be a priority for the government. This investment in the Friendly Calls program will enable the Red Cross to expand a program that we know is working and, as a result, reach more individuals who could benefit from greater social interaction. With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Government of Canada, more Canadians will benefit from the emotional support and social interaction that the Friendly Calls program can provide through the power of human connection.

Ingrid Jones
Ingrid Jones
Part-Time writer, must have coffee at least two times a day. I love my privacy, hiking and watching mystery movies.