On Friday, the provincial government announced that free, rapid-access counselling for children and youth will be expanding to Moose Jaw Family Services. 

This is part of the provincial government’s $1.7 million in new annual funding to Family Services Saskatchewan to expand its Rapid Access Counselling Program. 

"So, the funding currently for the adult program is $1.5 million and this is an expansion of an additional $1.7 million to specifically target children and youth,” said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Moose Jaw North MLA Tim McLeod. 

The $1.5 million is for adult and family services in 24 communities across the province. The additional $1.7 million is to expand children and youth rapid access counselling into 13 of the 24 communities this year and all 24 communities in the next five years. 

Since May, child and youth counselling services have been launched in Regina, Saskatoon, Weyburn, Estevan, Carlyle, Oxbow, North Battleford, Yorkton and Prince Albert. 

For Moose Jaw Family Services, the additional funding means they were able to hire a full-time counsellor who can do up to 20 sessions per week dedicated to children and youth. 

Executive director Tara Jones explained more about what rapid access counselling entails. 

“The idea is that we can get families and children in rapidly, preferably within a week, and they can see our counsellor, whether that’s in-person or virtual. And there is also a brief component to the counselling, so the goal is to make impacts quickly,’ she said. 

She went on to say that having a full-time counsellor dedicated to children and youth will free up other counsellors to take on adults and families in crisis. 

“It allows families that are already in a crisis or urgent situations to see somebody quickly while they may be on a waitlist at mental health and addictions, or maybe on a waitlist for one of our other counsellors,” Jones said. 

The Ministry of Health says it is investing a record $518 million this year towards mental health and addiction services. 

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