More people in B.C. will have access to community-based low- and no-cost mental health and substance use supports as part of $10 million in grants awarded to community counselling programs throughout the province.
The announcement was made on Nov. 4, 2019, by Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at Gordon Neighbourhood House — one of the successful grant recipients.
Twenty-nine community organizations have received funding to support a broad range of mental health and substance use services. These services include easy-to-access counselling, with a focus on marginalized people and those who have faced barriers accessing the supports they need.
“For far too long, counselling was out of reach for many British Columbians,” Darcy said. “Today, we are saying loud and clear that the ability to get help should not depend on the size of your bank account or where you live in the province. This new, multi-year funding is a significant step toward a system of care that helps British Columbians get help when and where they need it.”
Up to $120,000 per year, for three years, was awarded through the Community Counselling grants program, administered by Community Action Initiative. Funding will support organizations to address gaps in the mental health and substance use continuum of care by creating multiple entry points to much-needed services. In addition, the funding addresses gaps in care for individuals who face barriers related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, class, sexual orientation and/or financial means.
Examples of funded organizations include a network of Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver, Carrier Sekani Family Services in Prince George, DIVERSEcity Community Resources in Surrey, Independent Living Vernon Society, and Ishtar Women’s Resource Society in Langley/Aldergrove.
The funding is part of A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for improving mental health and addictions care for everyone in B.C. Implementing the roadmap is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Siobhan Powlowski, senior director, Gordon Neighbourhood House —
“As Neighbourhood Houses, we seek to build healthy, inclusive and just communities where every person can thrive. This funding will allow us to dramatically expand our free counselling program, while providing other factors that are critical for success — child care so a single parent can attend counselling too, a hot meal so that hunger will never be a distraction and transportation to the appointment.”
Jonny Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, B.C. Division —
“The government’s investment in community counselling is a critical step towards ensuring more British Columbians in distress can ask once and get help fast. Improved access to community counselling services narrows a gap for many people who find that essential counselling is out of reach and who need that care closer to home in community.”
Melinda Markey, secretariat director, Community Action Initiative —
“There is remarkable healing work taking place within the community-based mental health and substance use sector. We’ve heard countless stories about the need for greater access to high-quality, culturally appropriate counselling services. These grants offer a much-needed boost to programs that build community mental health and wellness by offering accessible entry points to services that foster trust, diversity and inclusion.”
For a complete list of funded programs, visit: https://communityactioninitiative.ca/grants-training/community-counselling-fund-grants/
Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ Pathway to Hope: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/initiatives-plans-strategies/mental-health-and-addictions-strategy/bcmentalhealthroadmap_2019web-5.pdf