A successful walk-in mental health counselling service is set to expand in the province on Saskatchewan. A $1.2 million investment by the Saskatchewan Government is set to make counselling services available in 23 communities, including Battleford and North Battleford.

The free services are available through Family Service Saskatchewan (FSSask) member agencies for anyone looking for help with a range of issues, including stress, depression, anxiety, family conflict and urgent mental health needs. Referrals can also be made to access other community supports for deeper needs. Kim Morrison, executive director of the Battleford’s Catholic Family Services, says the brief and solution-focused counselling can go a long way for people in need.

“There was a two-year pilot project on walk-in counselling here in Saskatchewan, and they found that 71 per cent of people felt fine after one session and that solved their issue they were presented with,” says Morrison. “In general, most people after two sessions do feel some relief. It’s a good way to clear space for people who have longer-lasting, deeper needs in regular counselling and deal with briefer needs in a more immediate fashion.”

Walk-in counselling services have already been piloted by FSSask member agencies in Regina, Saskatoon, Yorkton, Humboldt and Melfort, and have begun operating in the Battlefords in June. Warren Kaeding, Minister of Rural and Remote Health, says the walk-in counselling services will help improve access to mental health supports for Saskatchewan residents.

“These walk-in counselling services in communities throughout Saskatchewan are free to anyone experiencing a mental health challenge,” says Kaeding. “People will receive local help and will be connected to any on-going supports they may need to manage their mental health. With more communities offering these important services, more Saskatchewan people can receive timely care closer to home.”

The Battleford’s services are provided by Catholic Family Services Battlefords. They’re offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday out of the Catholic Family Services office on 101 street. On Tuesday services are beginning at the Battlefords Co-op Pharmacy on Tuesday, August 20, and on Thursday out of the North Battleford Public Library. Hours may vary and can be confirmed through the Catholic Family Services’ Facebook page or website.

On top of Battleford and North Battleford, the communities they’re offered in include:

• Estevan
• Humboldt
• Indian Head
• Kamsack
• Kelvington
• Melfort
• Nipawin
• Prince Albert
• Regina
• Saskatoon
• Southey
• Swift Current
• Tisdale
• Weyburn
• Wynyard
• Yorkton

These services will be available in 23 communities, some in multiple locations within a community. The SHA is working with FSSask to determine the locations of five additional sites. Funding for these walk-in services is part of a record $402 million investment in mental health and addictions in Saskatchewan’s 2019-20 Provincial Budget.