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Walk-in mental health clinic opening in Harriston

Local family counseling and support services says rural communities are often more impacted by mental health issues and face a lack of available options for help
Town of Minto sign near Harriston. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

HARRISTON – A walk-in mental health clinic offering same-day service will be opening in Harriston. 

Family Counselling and Support Services for Guelph-Wellington (FCSSGW) was able to get an emergency grant from United Way to fully fund the facility until March 31, 2021. 

The weekly clinic is set to start on July 28 and will be virtual to begin with. Clients will be able to call and arrange a same-day appointment between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. with a registered therapist.

Executive director Joanne Young Evans said these clinics are effective because no referral or diagnoses are necessary to access these services. 

She explained that FCSSGW has been working towards a physical clinic in the Minto area for a few years. The closest walk-in clinic is in Mount Forest and Harriston brings them deeper into the rural community. 

The other clinics they run in Fergus and Mount Forest only offer the walk-in portion, which is a single session. Harriston’s clinic will be able to offer follow-up therapy.

“Many people who come in for the walk-in clinic can be helped and assisted with just one session,” Evans said. “Many others require follow-up sessions of two or three.”

Evans said she thinks rural communities can be more impacted by mental health issues because of the isolation, lack of resources and lack of transportation to seek resources. COVID-19 has also stressed the farming community.

“Our agricultural community is really feeling the pressures financially because of what’s happening with COVID,” Evans said. “The rural community tends to feels these issues, they’re hit harder than other communities where there are more resources and more activities that they have access to.”

Services are also available for families and youth. Children 12 and older can be seen without a parent or guardian. Evans noted that in Fergus they tended to see a lot of families who come together for group therapy. 

Stats from clinics in Guelph, Fergus and Mount Forest have reflected to Evans why this service is important. 

“Thirty-five per cent of people who walk through our doors are either considering self-harm, suicidal ideation or they have attempted suicide,” Evans said. “So that’s how important it is to have it in our communities.”

Evans said it can also lead to recommendations to other services. She noted that about 20 per cent of women who come through are referred to a violence against women program. 

Evans said it is important to note that the funding received was a one-time deal and lasts until March 31, 2021. 

“We are looking for permanent funding so we can keep the clinic in Harriston permanently,” Evans said. 

She said they are looking into many options including working with the municipality, mental health associations and politicians. Community donors are encouraged because they are unable to hold a fundraising event in the foreseeable future. 

The physical office will be in the LaunchIt Minto building on Elora Street North in Harriston. 

Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka covers civic matters under the Local Journalism initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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