More people in B.C. will have access to community-based low- and no-cost mental health and substance use supports as part of $10 million in grants awarded to community counselling programs throughout the province.

In Prince George, grants will be supporting the Carrier Sekani Family Services and the Central Interior Native Health Society.

“A grant like this means we can bring in support to bring in an elder, an elder that can reach and build inter-connectedness to build stability, strength, a connection with community for individuals that they’re working with individually and/or in a group setting,” Shobha Shaarma, Executive Director of the Central Interior Native Health Society told MyPGNow.

She adds that the elder would then provide more service hours while also increasing the number of those that they’re able to then serve.

The announcement was made on Nov. 4, 2019, by Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, at Gordon Neighbourhood House – one of the successful grant recipients.

Twenty-nine community organizations have received funding to support a broad range of mental health and substance use services. These services include easy-to-access counselling, with a focus on marginalized people and those who have faced barriers accessing the supports they need.

“For far too long, counselling was out of reach for many British Columbians,” Darcy said. “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. This new, multi-year funding is a significant step toward a system of care that helps British Columbians get help when and where they need it.”

Up to $120,000 per year, for three years, was awarded through the Community Counselling grants program, administered by Community Action Initiative. Funding will support organizations to address gaps in the mental health and substance use continuum of care by creating multiple entry points to much-needed services. In addition, the funding addresses gaps in care for individuals who face barriers related to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, class, sexual orientation and/or financial means.

Further examples of funded organizations include a network of Neighbourhood Houses in Vancouver, DIVERSEcity Community Resources in Surrey, Independent Living Vernon Society, and Ishtar Women’s Resource Society in Langley/Aldergrove.

The funding is part of A Pathway to Hope: A roadmap for improving mental health and addictions care for everyone in B.C. Implementing the roadmap is a shared priority with the BC Green Party caucus and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.