Patti MacAhonic, executive director of Ann Davis Transition Society. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Patti MacAhonic, executive director of Ann Davis Transition Society. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Crisis calls are on the rise in Chilliwack to Ann Davis Transition Society

Added stressors and financial pressures are taking their toll since COVID-19 hit

The number of crisis calls coming in to Ann Davis Transition Society in Chilliwack have increased significantly since the pandemic hit.

The advent of COVID-19 has been impacting people’s mental health and their finances for months, and the added stress is taking a toll on the local organization that deals with the results of family violence.

“That stress can often lead to more conflict in the home,” said Patti MacAhonic, executive director of the Ann Davis Transition Society

They are seeing a 43.7 per cent increase in crisis calls, and about 26 per cent more calls for counselling services of all kinds.

They have had to turn away 198 women and 90 children who were seeking shelter stays when the safe houses were full.

“The rates of domestic violence are definitely going up during the pandemic,” MacAhonic said.

Most of their services have gone virtual, but some have remained in-person.

One thing they’ve tried to do is remove barriers to getting help, so they’ve reduced costs or waived fees for services entirely in some cases.

The ADTS legal advocate has been “run off her feet” dealing with the court orders, and changes since the pandemic hit last spring.

“Generally it’s all having a significant impact on mental health,” MacAhonic said. “As we know anyone who is already facing stress, even in a strong relationship, will find that added stress can be problematic.”

One indicator is how quickly the Building Healthy Relationships workshop with Dr. Rob Lees filled up.

“People are looking for any help, even if it’s virtual,” she said.

It’s also been challenging to hire new staff because people are reluctant to move right now.

“But I am so thankful for how deeply committed our team has been throughout this time. They have really stepped up during the pandemic and I tell them often how grateful I am,” MacAhonic added.

READ MORE: Shifting services in the age of COVID-19

READ MORE: Shelters shifting their practices

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