The Government of Alberta is supporting improved mental health in rural Alberta with a $6.75 million investment in Counseling Alberta.
Counseling Alberta is a new division of the Calgary Counseling Center that focuses on supporting Albertans in rural communities. Calgary Counseling Center CEO Robbie Babins-Wagner says mental health care is really important to individual and community well-being.
“Good mental health care really allows us to live good, healthy and fulfilling lives. It allows us to have good relationships, it allows us to be better parents and it allows us to be productive in our work. It is therefore essential for our individual well-being as well as our relationships and communities,” she said.
The funds will be awarded over two years to expand access to affordable mental health care. Part of that is virtual counseling, which was already implemented yesterday.
“The funds were used to implement virtual counseling province-wide. Anyone across Alberta can continue CounselingAlberta.com and register. The funds were used to hire staff to meet the anticipated needs of callers. »
Babins-Wagner expects virtual consulting to be popular, as client feedback indicates that virtual may be preferred over in-person for some.
“I expect that as we reopen we will see a smaller percentage of people wanting in-person care. Because virtual counseling and virtual care has allowed people to participate with much more flexibility than before. They don’t have to travel to an office, they don’t have to babysit, they don’t have to search for parking. And they can do it wherever they are. , whether they’re at home or at work, they can go to a room or a park and have the call.That’s what customers tell us.
While virtual counseling is a big part of efforts to expand mental health care, in-person counseling will also see greater accessibility.
“The other part of the money is used to provide in-person services to various locations in Alberta, and we are currently working with the ministry to determine which communities these will be. And we will have a better idea of that. in the next weeks.”
“We wanted to make sure we had opportunities for both (online and in person)”
Virtual counseling may be more popular than in-person, but right now it’s too early to tell. Over time, Counseling Alberta and the Department of Health will determine how to distribute their resources.
“What we’re seeing is that clients who participate in virtual counseling are getting slightly better, if not as good, outcomes as the in-person care they would have received pre-COVID. So we’re pretty confident to go from there. before as to providing the suit, but I don’t think anyone really knows what proportion that will be over time.”
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