Island Health launches same-day counselling for mental health in Victoria

Island Health launches same-day counselling for mental health in Victoria
Alex Green
File Photo

South Island residents now have a new pathway to obtain same-day counselling from mental health specialists.

People experiencing a mental health or substance use issue who don’t require a hospital visit can now access a same-day assessment appointment or walk-in counselling at Island Health’s Central Access and Rapid Engagement Services (CARES) in Victoria.

“When people reach out for help, they need to find support quickly and easily,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

“Without timely access to care, many people struggling with mental health and addiction challenges can feel unsupported or decide against seeking treatment. This new service in Victoria eliminates wait times by providing same-day access to dedicated mental health professionals ensuring compassionate care is available right when it’s needed most.”

At CARES, clients are seen by trained and skilled mental health and substance use clinicians who provide a goal-oriented counselling session with therapeutic supports.

They may be booked for a follow-up appointment based on their needs where they can get detailed intake screening and assessment to help find the most appropriate mental health or substance use service for them.

“Many people who seek care at Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services Department can be better served through this new walk-in mental health service,” said Tasha Mckelvey, Island Health director of mental health and substance use.

“Our goal is to quickly and efficiently provide or connect people with the supports they need to improve their health and wellness, learn skills to manage their health condition, and better understand the supports and resources available in the community.”

Island Health says clients will also be referred to other community services and support when they need it.

Additional clinical and peer support roles have been put in place at Victoria CARES to support service demands. The same-day service offers both in-person and virtual counselling sessions.

Victoria CARES is located at 1119 Pembroke St. and can be accessed by either calling 250-519-3485 to book an appointment or by walking-in during operating hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

People experiencing a more severe mental health and/or substance use emergency or crisis should always dial 911 or visit their nearest emergency department.

Crisis services are also available:

  • Call the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888 to access 24-hour crisis support
  • Text the Vancouver Island Crisis line at 250-800-3806 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly
  • Call or text the Community-Led Crisis Response Team (C.L.C.R.) at 250-818-2454, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Online chat crisis service from 6p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly via
  • Call BC211 at 2-1-1 to reach an information specialist 24 hours a day, or visit
  • Dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
  • Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) to get help right away, any time
  • Call KUU-US Crisis line at 1-800-588-8717 to access 24-hour Indigenous specific crisis support

For information or help navigating mental health and substance use services, call Island Health’s Service Link at 1-888-885-8824.

This line is answered by a call taker every day of the week. As this is not an emergency or crisis service, callers who leave a message will be contacted the same day or next day.


Harry CorroHarry Corro

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