Demi Lovato, Richard Branson, Royal Bank of Canada, and others launch coronavirus mental health fund

Apr 20 2020, 4:59 pm

Demi Lovato, the Royal Bank of Canada, Virgin Unite’s Richard Branson, the Canadian Family Foundations, and Draper Richards Kaplan have announced the launch of The Mental Health Fund to help individuals in pain from the mental and behavioural impact of COVID-19.

The fund, which has already raised $2 million, aims to “fill the gap” in the mental health system via 24/7 texts for people who find it difficult to talk or do not have the resources to access other care.

“So many people have been left alone with their thoughts, their abusers, their anxieties — and are struggling with the uncertainty of these times,” said Demi Lovato. “I know not everyone has the ability to get the help they need, so my hope is that this fund can bring support to help alleviate some of the hardship and pain people are going through.”

To meet the increased demand of people in pain, Crisis Text Line, Shout UK, Kids Help Phone, and have come together to work with The Mental Health Fund.

As a result of the pandemic, these organizations experienced a collective 40% increase in texter volume in March and April, according to a news release.

According to the fund, anxiety is the top issue in relation to the pandemic, as 78% of conversations indicate anxiety that is hinging predominantly on financial stress.

The widespread quarantine in the US and Canada are causing hardships on people who may be sheltering in place with their abusers. In March, hotlines saw a “collective increase” in conversations about emotional and physical abuse, according to Crisis Text Line.

“The virus itself is awful and causing anxiety and grief and then the quarantines, and financial ruin is causing different intense pain,” said Nancy Lublin, CEO and co-founder of Crisis Text Line. “We’re here for all of it. Bring it on. We got you.”

The joint organizations are recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers who comfort texters struggling to cope with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal ideation, domestic violence, eating disorders, and other mental health challenges.

Since 2013, Crisis Text Line and its affiliate partners Kids Help Phone, Shout, and have trained over 30,000 volunteers and exchanged over 150 million messages by text with people in pain.

“We are so honoured to support the critical work of the incredible people behind The Mental Health Fund. There has never been a more important time for their work,” says Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Unite. “Mental health support will be needed for years to come, and we all should get behind their mission to ensure everyone can receive quality support 24/7.”

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