People living with mental health and addiction challenges will have increased access to vital counselling services and supports in Greater Victoria.
The Government of B.C. is investing $85,000 to support community-based mental health and addictions counselling services for adults. These services are led by the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society and supported by volunteer counsellors.
“Access to mental health and substance use care shouldn’t depend on the size of your pocketbook," said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "That's why we are working to make low- and no-cost counselling available in every part of the province. I am grateful to the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society and to its compassionate and dedicated volunteer counsellors who generously provide life-changing support to people and families in their community.”
The society offers free, short-term, community-based counselling for adults dealing with challenges, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and loss. This investment will ensure more people can receive support and guidance from trained volunteer counsellors. No referral is needed.
“This is great news for people living in Esquimalt and throughout Greater Victoria who are looking for affordable mental health and addictions counselling,” said Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin and Minister of Children and Family Development. “By investing in more counselling services, our government is bringing help and hope to even more people and families, free of cost, which supports our vibrant community.”
Most years, the society provides counselling to about 250 adults living with mental health and addictions challenges. During the pandemic, the demand for counselling services doubled. Meeting this need has required extraordinary efforts from the society’s volunteer counsellors, as well as ongoing support from the Province.
Annually, about 15 new qualified volunteers complete a 10-month training program. They represent a diverse range of ages, genders, sexual orientations and cultures, as well as educational and economic backgrounds.
“Without the support of our amazing and dedicated volunteer counsellors, our service would not have been able to keep up with the demand,” said Mary Lynn McKenna, executive director, Esquimalt Neighbourhood House. “This is a vital and necessary service. We need more community counselling, and this funding will help us meet the needs of our community members.”
Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society supports people of all ages. Services include:
- mental health and supportive counselling for adults;
- early years and family resource programs, with a focus on children’s early learning and development;
- pre- and post-natal services;
- youth and family support; and
- non-medical help for seniors to remain living independently in their homes.
“I see the benefits of offering free counselling support services in the community first-hand and hear the change in people’s lives and the relief they feel to have someone to talk to,” said Gayle Floyd, volunteer counsellor, Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society. “I’m thankful that funding from the Province will help support people when the demands of life get just too hard to handle alone.”
This investment supports the goal of improved access to better quality services – ensuring access to culturally safe and effective care as outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap to creating a seamless, comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care for everyone.
Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society: www.enh.bc.ca/
A Pathway to Hope: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCMentalHealthRoadmap_2019.pdf
Low- and no-cost mental health supports: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19mentalhealthsupports