60 for 60: Barrier-Free Mental Health for Children, Youth, and Families

The Cause

During Calgary Counselling Centre’s 60th anniversary year, our idea is to raise funds to provide barrier-free counselling to an additional 60 vulnerable families who would otherwise be unable to afford mental health services. Our initiative, 60 for 60: Barrier-Free Mental Health for Children, Youth, and Families, addresses a crucial gap in mental health services in Calgary and surrounding area by providing affordable and waitlist-free individual and group counselling. Our barrier-free mental health services are especially important right now because many Albertans can't afford to pay for private mental health treatment; while with publicly-funded services, many are encountering eight-to-twelve-month waitlists.
Through 8 to 10 individual counselling sessions (on average), CCC counsellors can help children, youth and their families develop problem-solving, coping strategies and other skills that equip them with the competence, resilience, and tools to face life’s challenges, and be able to reach their full potential. These are crucial skills that form the foundation for lifelong mental and emotional stability, resiliency, and productivity.
CCC is unique in many ways:
•We have no waitlist: those who turn to us on Monday will have a counsellor assigned within a couple of days from intake and their first session is usually scheduled within a few days. Timely intervention can make all the difference with mental health problems and given the long wait times for publicly funded services, clients find this very helpful.
•We don’t require a referral.
•We have no financial barriers. No one is turned away due to an inability to pay: our sliding fee scale is based on income/ability to pay and we provide financial subsidies for clients that otherwise could not afford counselling services.
•We serve people of all ages, from all walks of life. We offer individual, family and group counselling programs for 3 to 90 year olds. Group programs complement individual counselling, providing individuals with the support they need to work through emotional struggles surrounded by others experiencing similar challenges.
•We deliver excellent results for our clients. The Centre uses the OQ (Outcome Questionnaire), which is a questionnaire every client uses before every session to track their levels of distress. It is similar to taking vital signs at the doctor’s office at appointments. Using these metrics helps the clients see their progress, and the counsellors to adapt if needed.

Who Will it Benefit?

Children, youth and young adults (aged 3-24) and their families will benefit from increased access to barrier-free mental health services. We strongly believe that each family is a system, and when one member of the family system experiences difficulties, the entire family is impacted. Statistics support this: a child of a depressed parent is 3 to 6 times more likely to develop depression. With the largest group of depression sufferers being those aged 25 to 44 - prime parenting years – uncoincidentally, the fastest-growing demographic experiencing depression is kids of depressed parents.

The past few years have bombarded parents, children, teens, grandparents – entire family systems - with difficulties is reflected in the demand for our programs and services. In 2021, CCC provided an unprecedented 47,700 remote counselling sessions to 10,872 Albertan children, youth and adults - an 8.4% increase over 2020. Also in 2021, among the young people who we saw, 69% (2,247 clients) were given financial subsidies for counselling. Without this help, these clients would not have been able to afford professional counselling services to address their treatable mental health challenges.

CCC's services continue to be provided remotely, via video and telephone. Throughout the pandemic, this enabled us to support not only Calgarians in need, but also residents of Airdrie, Cochrane, Chestermere, High River, Morley, Okotoks, Priddis, Redwood Meadows, Strathmore, and Tsuut’ina. We even had a of clients from as far away as Fort McMurray.