THUNDER BAY — Community service agencies have come together to improve access to mental health counselling and supports in the Thunder Bay area.
Eight agencies now provide free walk-in and/or talk-in mental health counselling Monday to Friday.
The participating organizations include:
- Alpha Court
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Catholic Family Development Centre
- Children's Centre Thunder Bay
- Dilico Anishinabek Family Care
- North of Superior Counselling Programs
- Our Kids Count
- Thunder Bay Counselling
Services are also available in the French, Cree and Oji-Cree languages.
The initiative came together after Thunder Bay Counselling and Children's Centre Thunder Bay hosted a meeting of interested agencies to look for new ways to address the critical need for access to mental health services.
"Providing quick and safe access...is among the biggest concerns for people in our community, and the challenges were only escalated during the pandemic," said Thunder Bay Counselling executive director Nancy Chamberlain.
"These challenging times have created a pressing need but also a new opportunity for local community service agencies to work together in ways we would have never considered before," she said.
A community-wide Walk-in/Talk-in Counselling Calendar is being developed.
It will list the daily counselling locations and hours of operation.
The objective is to provide services without the need for an appointment or being put on a wait list.
Diane Walker, CEO of Children's Centre Thunder Bay, said "We recognize this is just the beginning to remove barriers and get people the help they need when they need it."
Walker said the working group is already looking at options for expanding hours of operation, adding new locations, improving cultural supports and integrating complimentary wrap-around services with additional partners.
This is Mental Health Week across Canada.