After an annual allotment of provincial funding has depleted faster than expected, a non-profit counselling society in Nanaimo seeks to raise money to continue its services.
Vancouver Island Integrated Counselling and Community Services Society provides a number of therapies, including for depression, eating disorders, abuse, behavioural problems, anxiety and anger management. Earl Blacklock, executive director, said the society receives $30,500 in B.C. gaming grant money, but due to increased demand, the money, which normally sustains the society through December, has been spent.
Blacklock said the services provided are preventative. The society made an additional request to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for just under $100,000 to expand its services through the mid-Island and for its eating disorders program to include Oceanside, but that was denied, he said. It now hopes to fundraise $36,000 to maintain current services.
Grant money is used to pay therapists the amount the client isn’t able to, according to Blacklock.
“Somebody comes in,” said Blacklock. “They say that they need therapeutic counselling. We agree that they would benefit from it, but they can’t afford to pay the full price that they would normally pay if they had adequate income or benefits. We then assess how much they can afford and that can be anywhere from $20 to $90.
“Most of the people that we encounter are in the lower end of that range and so nobody’s turned away because of the amount they’re able to pay.”
Ian Gartshore, society founder and clinical supervisor, said the increased usage is due to necessity.
“The needs keep on going up every year,” said Gartshore. “That’s really it. I mean, we’re getting to be better known, of course, but the need is there. When I see one person, they refer two more people.”
Blacklock said the society will also approach Island Health in the coming weeks seeking funding.
In an e-mail, the ministry said it appreciates the services that VIICCS provides, but is unable to provide funding as requested at this time due to budgetary constraints.
“Unfortunately, the ministry cannot commit funds to all of the worthy organizations seeking support from the government, but we have committed to keeping this request in mind in the event that funds become available at a later date,” it said.