Mental health services see high demand from Calgarians needing support

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Bell Let’s Talk Day is a chance for Canadians to start a new conversation about mental health, and silence the stigma.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, in any given year, one-in-five people will experience a mental health problem or illness.

In Calgary, mental health centres say they have seen an increase in clients seeking help since the pandemic began.

“We've seen about a 21 per cent increase in people requesting support, reaching out, seeking counseling,” said Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO of Calgary Counselling Centre.

“We know that it’s not by chance, because if we look backward 20 years, we see about a three to five per cent increase each year.” 

Babins-Wagner says a number of people requiring their services are post-secondary students.

“We've seen our numbers in that age group double during the pandemic,” she said.

Debbie Bruckner, senior director of student wellness, access and support at the University of Calgary, says their resources are also in high demand.

“The pressures of going to school are enough, and then you add all those personal layers like isolation, access to technology, loss, grief, financial kinds of barriers and struggles,” she said.

Bruckner says additional mental health resources have been added, like more counsellors, along with online tools for students.

Even before a pandemic, experts say young people can be vulnerable when it comes to mental health.

“Isolation, anxiety, stress, depression, and mental health problems typically begin in the latter school age years,” said Babins-Wagner.

“[They need] an opportunity to talk about their challenges, their difficulties without judging them, and [help finding] the resources that are most appropriate for them.”

If you, or someone you know, needs support, the Mental Help Line is a confidential service for Albertans experiencing mental health concerns available toll free at 1-877-303-2642.

Additional mental health resources can be found online.