Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Accessing quality mental health services can be difficult for some Albertans. Most people have limited funding through their employee benefits or no funding at all. This leaves many Albertans needing to wait long periods to access free or partially funded services provided by government and/or community based agencies. Many Albertans choose to forgo pursuing necessary psychological services at all with these roadblocks.
Our group of Psychologists from Creating Solutions Inc. in Edmonton recognized the Psychological Services Fund as a direct route to helping more Albertans in need. They created the “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is” campaign in February 2016, for what is intended to be an annual campaign. The campaign was launched in February as this is National Psychology Month. We challenged our fellow Psychologists and the general public to raise monies for the Psychological Services Fund in February to increase the principle amount that naturally increases the available interest for individuals to access funds for services annually.
People responded and the campaign raised $8,450.00 in this inaugural year. This amount of money contributes to an approximate addition of 53 life changing sessions with a Psychologist to Albertans in need.
The plan is to approach corporate sponsors to match the amount that was raised by this challenge. When our Psychologists saw the Field Law Group opportunity on Facebook we decided we had to apply and raise awareness of this important campaign. We are requesting that Field Law Community Fund Program match this inaugural amount with a contribution of $8,450.00. This will increase the principle fund by a total amount to $16,900.00. This would enable Albertans to access an additional 106 sessions with a Psychologist in the coming year (October 2016- October 2017).
Who Will it Benefit?
The Psychological Services Fund directly supports Alberta adults, children, and families seeking treatment from a Psychologist by paying professional fees up to a maximum of $900.00 per person. For someone on a waitlist with the healthcare system this can mean being seen in a matter of days versus months. That is a substantial difference in the ability to identify mental health concerns and beginning the road to recovery. General knowledge, informed by research in mental health treatment, clearly shows that the earlier intervention begins, the greater a person’s prognosis for a return to mental wellness. This makes quicker access to quality services a significant priority to the mental health and well-being of all Albertans. With the economic downturn in Alberta’s oil industry, many Albertans are without workplace benefits that help underwrite the costs of psychological services. The recent fire evacuations in Ft. McMurray create an even greater need for Albertans to access psychological services. Although the Psychologist Association of Alberta has a list of Psychologists that can provide three pro-bono sessions to deal with crisis management, the need for ongoing mental health support is not captured in this limited program.
As this is a province-wide initiative and funding source, people from both the south and north communities benefit from this. Untreated mental health in our Province and across our Nation negatively contribute to decreased economic productivity through stress leaves from work that would be preventable if individuals were supported to access timely, effective mental health supports. Untreated mental health issues are contributing factors to community struggles including: crime, homelessness, and poverty. Improvement in access to valuable psychological services contributes to a deminishment of these negative societal concerns.