A new walk-in counselling service will be opening next week in order to provide more alternatives for people seeking assistance with mental health issues.
EnRoute Walk-In Counselling Clinic will be offering walk-in mental health services on a four day a week basis effective September 23. Located in the Fresh Start building at 214 1st Ave. N.E., there is no cost for individuals accessing services at the new office.
Fresh Start Executive Director Sally Wiens said people can access the service for a wide variety of reasons.
“EnRoute Walk-In Counselling is exactly that. It’s a walk-in counselling clinic designed to serve anyone that could benefit from additional support in our city as well as the surrounding rural area,” Wiens said during an interview unveiling the project.
“The name ‘EnRoute’ comes from the idea that we’re all on a path, a journey, a route, on this thing called life. However in life, we at times we encounter bumps on the route, so we just want to be there to support people in those times. We’re just there to help them get back en route.”
Carrie Chambers has been hired as the first Walk-In Counsellor at EnRoute, and she points out that anyone of any age can access the service, but minors would require parental or guardian consent for the service.
“Reasons that people may access En Route, those that come to mind would be things such as: individuals wanting to move forward but are unsure how to get started or how to figure out next steps; individual simply wanting to sort things out; people losing their job and the financial struggles that come with that; people struggling with the loss of a family member or close friend; people experiencing change in their lives and wrestling with what’s next; a family member has been diagnosed with a terminal illness; anxiety. Whatever it is keeping you up at night or preventing you from moving forward that’s sufficient enough reason to access this service,” Chambers said.
Chambers has a Bachelor of Social Work Degree as well as a Child and Youth Care Diploma, and she boasts extensive experience in counselling and supporting individuals.
“She comes with a wide assortment of additional training to help people with a wide assortment of needs. So training such as group counselling, mediation, mental health, first aid, self harm training. And that list goes on and on. We’re so excited to have her join our team,” Wiens explained.
Chambers added that EnRoute is designed to be simple for those seeking support.
“It’s as simple as walking through the door. We’ll help support you through the rest,” Chambers said.
“We can be the first step. We would never want to take away the intake service with Mental Health. However that’s the piece we’re trying to support. So if you wonder ‘where do I go?’ we’re a great avenue. Because if we aren’t what you’re looking for then we will make sure that you get to the place that you’re needing to be.”
She adds that they will primarily be delivering lower level counselling services as opposed to long term supports.
“We are following what’s called a single-session type of programming, meaning we are a lower level, lower risk area of support. So if it is something that’s longer term, or going to need more support for a length of time, then that’s when we would refer on to that next agency where we see that would be a better fit for what’s happening for you.”
“We’d be a good first step, but we would make sure we got you where you needed to go.”
However they both point out that if EnRoute is the best place for them to return for additional sessions they could still access the office.
They offer service by a first-come, first-served basis, however because of the large geographic region they serve, appointments can be booked for those rural individuals coming from large distances. They will begin operating for a total of 24 hours each week, with office hours on Monday (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Tuesday (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), Thursday (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Friday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
“In an effort to accommodate a range of needs, we’ve structured clinic days to provide service over the lunch hour and have extended hours one evening per week.”
Wiens explained that EnRoute fits in nicely with the mandate of Fresh Start which was established in 1999.
“I think Fresh Start is always looking for ways to impact people, giving them new opportunity, giving them a fresh start. So if people are struggling in some way, shape or form in life, or unable to move forward in life, whatever it is that’s preventing them from doing that, we always want to give people a fresh start. And this is just another avenue to do that.”
The clinic received funding to be operational through a pair of sources.
“The exciting news is that the Ministry of Health recognizes the need to support mental health in our province. And they’ve demonstrated their commitment to that through this initiative,” Wiens noted.
“As the topic of Mental Health becomes more acceptable, people have started sharing their stories more readily. In doing that, more pressure has been placed on our existing system. So the entire intent of EnRoute is to provide counselling that is readily available to people, but also with the hope of alleviating the mounting pressures that are current in our systems.”
EnRoute has also benefited from support from Family Services Saskatchewan.
“Family Services is a non-profit body within the province. Fresh Start has been a long standing member of this organization. This initiative has been a while in the making for us, and we’re excited to see it all come together.”
EnRoute will be celebrating their official opening on September 25.