VICTORIA – Women affected by trauma and their loved ones will benefit from expanded mental health supports to help more families in B.C. thrive.

The ministry is investing $50,000 for the Bridges for Women Society to provide women and families throughout B.C. with expanded trauma counselling, recovery and referral supports to help build resilience.

“For too long, women affected by violence have struggled to access the mental health supports they need to rebuild their lives,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “That’s why we are expanding services for women and their families who have not only experienced greater risk of violence, but who are also dealing with many added challenges due to the pandemic. I am grateful to Bridges for Women Society for partnering with us to support women and their families through a very difficult time in their lives.”

The society offers healing, education and employment programs for people in B.C. who identify as a part of the women’s community and who have been affected by violence or trauma at any time in their lives. It also offers programs that are trauma informed and aim to meet each woman where they are, without judgment or expectation.

“Women have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, some experiencing increased risk of violence and trauma,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity and MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. “This investment will benefit women in B.C. by providing the vital mental health services they need to recover.”

The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women. Fifty-one per cent of women in B.C. report that their mental health has worsened during the pandemic. Women have also experienced increased risk of intimate partner violence, economic stress and increased caregiving responsibilities, as well as reduced connection to services, friends and family. Some women may also have experienced increased racism and other forms of systemic oppression.

“During the pandemic, more women have been affected by trauma, violence and abuse,” said Patricia Rawson, interim executive director, Bridges for Women Society. “We are grateful for this investment that provides funding for much-needed expanded supports for women and their families to heal and build connections.”

This investment supports the goal of improved access and better quality – ensuring equitable access to culturally safe and effective care outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap to creating a seamless, comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care for everyone.

“The effects of trauma can raise issues around self-worth and ability to cope with the world,” said Gwen Davies, clinical counselling co-ordinator, Bridges for Women Society. “This funding has made a world of difference to the women we serve, supporting them to move into the world with renewed confidence.”