The Golden Family Center has raised over $10,000 to help support their free Wednesday drop-in counselling since Bell Let’s Talk day on Jan. 28 with the hope to double that by the end of the month.
The counselling is partially funded through grants, with the rest of the costs being made up from local fundraising.
This is the second year the family center has ran this fundraiser and the third year that they’ve been offering the free counselling.
“We believe everyone deserves access to mental health supports, and therefore believe in the importance of providing drop-in counselling services for free to all members of our community,” reads the family center’s website.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Helena Oostehoek, who works at the Golden Family Center, saying accessibility is more important than ever.
Oostehoek says the drop-in counselling has been in high demand, especially in recent weeks as the pandemic continues to drag on.
According to a study by Statistics Canada, only 55 per cent of Canadians are reporting excellent or very good mental health since the start of Covid-19. Youth, aged 15-24, are reporting an even larger decrease, with only 40 per cent reporting excellent or very good mental health.
These numbers highlight the important for locally accessible mental health supports, according to the family center. The drop-in counselling program at the Golden Family Center provides accessible, same-day counselling services to all members of our community.
It’s something that Oostehoek has said is important to preserve, to make sure that everyone has equal access to services.
“This last year was difficult for everyone.We can only really deal with that level of stress for a certain level of time and we’re starting to see people get really tired emotionally from this past year,” said Oostehoek.
“Having free services is crucial because otherwise a large group of people who deserve care can’t afford that kind of service, especially when people may have less income because of COVID-19.”
Mental health is something that’s important to protect, just as you would your physical health, says Oostehoek.
“Mental health affects everything in our lives, not just how we feel but our relationships and how we can take care of our physical health too,” she said.
“In our community we’ve seen people who are under a lot of stress, but people are reaching out and supporting each other and I think in a small community it’s always wonderful how people pull together to look out for each other.”
As counselling services become busier as the pandemic continues on and wait lists for counselling increase, Oostehoek says it’s important to know and to have access to brief mental health services available in the moment when a person might need it. Donations can be made online, in person or by mail.