By Erika Mathieu
Alberta’s Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Mike Ellis, said in a recent meeting with rural media, “I think it is important that people in rural Alberta are aware of this mental health support coverage.”
Ellis expressed he, “did not want the (news of this initiative) to get lost,” as political, social, and financial ramifications of an uncertain two years continue to impact the mental health of many Albertans.
On June 9, the province announced a $6.75 million investment over two years to the Calgary Counselling Centre and their Counselling Alberta division to expand affordable counselling services across the province and provide better access to these resources to rural Albertans through telehealth and virtual care models.
A vision for a more egalitarian approach to mental health care intends that “nobody is turned away. There are no wait times regardless of your socioeconomic status. If you are somebody that’s going though something,” there are options. The cost of services is determined on a sliding scale depending on a client’s income, and very low-income Albertans will have the entire cost of the services subsidized.
CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre, Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, said she believes, “this is a super important initiative with COVID-19 at the centre because when the pandemic started in March 2020, we started receiving calls from people across the problems saying, ‘Can you see us?’ and our answer is always yes,” she explained.
“To date, (the Calgary Counselling Centre) has seen, since mid-March of 2020, 28,000 individuals, and we provided over 103,000 council sessions. So, it’s been pretty busy. This is about 20 per cent more than we would normally do.”
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