The B.C. government has announced it will be extending funding to community counselling agencies in order to continue providing low- and no-cost counselling services across the province.
The government says that the pandemic, toxic drug crisis and extreme weather events have led to an increase in mental health and substance use issues for many people in B.C.
The Province also points to Indigenous survivors and their families having to grapple with the confirmation of thousands of children buried on the grounds of former residential schools as a big cause for mental stress.
In an effort to meet the increase in stressors, the Province is investing $4.2 million to support the ongoing work of 49 community agencies to provide counselling services for people, particularly those in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
“When people make the brave decision to seek help for their mental health and well-being, we want them met with care, regardless of their location or pocketbook. In the early days of the pandemic, community counselling groups helped us transform mental-health care delivery and, with our funding, reached thousands of people,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I am grateful to these community counselling agencies for the vital work they do to meet people in their time of need and to build trust and ongoing connections. With today’s funding announcement, that care continues and broadens.”
The government says that community counselling provides flexibility for counsellors to meet clients through outreach, in-person counselling or through virtual supports.
In some community agencies, counsellors connect people to other services and supports, such as housing, employment insurance, addictions treatment or even attending appointments with them.
This funding builds on investments that the government has been making since 2019 to reduce barriers to mental health supports for people throughout the province.
During the pandemic, additional funding was provided to more community counselling organizations to help them offer these vital services virtually.
The government highlights that since 2019, nearly 25,000 people have had access to counselling services as a result.
A complete list of all funded community counselling agencies can be found online here.