It’s Victoria’s only non-profit trauma-informed therapy centre for males 16 and up, aiding survivors of physical, psychological and sexualized violence.
Men’s Therapy Centre on Saanich Road has been around for 20 years, but it could close its doors soon, and staff say a lack of funds is to blame.
“What we’re facing is, and especially since COVID, the need for our services is increasing drastically,” said Nick Sandor, the centre’s executive director.
“A lot of this is vulnerable community members who, of course, cannot pay out of pocket for mental health services.”
With 15 Registered Clinical Counsellors, their expansive client list of over 300 people, including convicted criminals, has about 60 more on the waitlist.
But with a deficit budget recently passed at a March 30 emergency board meeting, and staff now facing pay cuts, Sandor’s worried.
“Will people get hurt, will people die by suicide, will people go back to using? There are so many factors like that, and being kind of the only suitable service for these men, it’s heartbreaking that it’s going to be taken away from them,” he told CHEK News.
Statistics Canada said in April 2019 that five of every 1,000 men are a victim of sexual assault, and according to the BC Coroners Service, of all suicides in 2021, 77 per cent were male.
It’s alarming figures like these, which Sandor says are usually underreported, that have staff seeking provincial funding to cover operating costs and reverse the looming closure.
“I think there has been a will at the provincial government level to say, let’s look at this, let’s have a conversation,” said Sandor. “But we’re not seeing progress at this point.”
On Monday, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside applauded the centre’s services and, in a turn of events, said funding is likely on the way.
“It’s really important work they do. I’ve asked my staff to reach out to them so that we can find a way to work it out, so they can continue to provide the important services they provide,” Whiteside told a CHEK News reporter at the legislature.
“We have to find ways to support these structures. It’s a tough time out there for folks, and we want to be here to support them,” added Sandor.
Whiteside says a conversation with centre staff is in the works.