Mental health services across the province will be made more accessible through $10 million in grants awarded to community counselling programs.
Twenty-nine organizations, including Surrey’s DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, have received funding to provide services including easy-to-access counselling, with a focus on marginalized people and those who have faced barrier accessing services they require.
“For far too long, counselling was out of reach for many British Columbians. Today, we are saying loud and clear that the ability to get help should not depend on the size of your bank account or where you live in the province,” said Mental Health Minister Judy Darcy in a news release.
The funding will help address gaps in care by creating multiple-entry points to services.
Surrey’s DIVERSEcity is to receive $120,00 a year for three years.
“We are grateful that the provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is continuing to make a positive impact in our communities by providing organizations like ours the capacity to provide much-needed counselling support to under-served and hard-to-reach individuals with complex mental health needs. The significant waitlists that families face due to chronic under-funding of a fast-growing city like Surrey will be greatly alleviated with this new funding,” said Neelam Sahota, CEO of DIVERSEcity, in a release.
Sahota said in the 2018-19 fiscal year, the organization served 2,100 clients through its counselling services.
“This funding will allow us to expand the reach of our free, culturally informed mental health services so we can help even more people,” she added.
In a release, DIVERSEcity stated the three-year grant will help reduce waitlist times for its existing mental health and substance use services by funding additional staff resources so it can “better meet the needs of the fast-growing population in Surrey and its surrounding areas.”
The organization’s counselling services provide culturally informed support in many first languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Farsi and English.
“Newcomers, both adults and youth, are faced with many changes, challenges and losses that come with immigrating to a new country,” noted a DIVERSEcity release. “Many also come to Canada to escape war, injustice and trauma. DIVERSEcity’s professionally trained, compassionate counsellors support them in their journey to emotional well-being through clinical counselling, substance use counselling and other specialized programs.”
Other organization on the list include various Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver, Independent Living Vernon Society, and Ishtar Women’s Resource Society in Langley/Aldergrove.