B.C. earmarks $85K for free counselling services in Greater Victoria

(Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society / Facebook)

The province is providing the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society with an $85,000 boost to continue offering free counselling services and supports for adults and families in Greater Victoria.

The Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society offers free short-term counselling for adults struggling with mental illness or other challenges, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, or grief.

The society also provides support for, families, youth, early children's development, pre-natal and post-natal services, and non-medical support for seniors living independently.

The province says the investment will help the society maintain its services, after the society saw roughly double its usual demand amid the pandemic.

"Without the support of our amazing and dedicated volunteer counsellors, our service would not have been able to keep up with the demand," said Mary Lynn McKenna, executive director of the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society, in a statement Monday.

"This is a vital and necessary service. We need more community counselling, and this funding will help us meet the needs of our community members," she said.

Approximately 15 volunteers join the society's team every year, after completing a 10-month training program, according to the province.

The volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, and cultures, and the society says it tries to be culturally safe space for everyone looking for support.

"I see the benefits of offering free counselling support services in the community first-hand and hear the change in people’s lives and the relief they feel to have someone to talk to," said Gayle Floyd, a volunteer counsellor with the society.

"I’m thankful that funding from the province will help support people when the demands of life get just too hard to handle alone," she said.