Youth counselling

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A young adult is sitting on a couch with a counsellor, who has their hand on their shoulder supportively.
As your counsellor, I think your new haircut doesn’t look bad at all. Mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

More widely available counselling? Hurrah!

The Government of Saskatchewan released a funding plan for youth, children, and their caregivers in Saskatchewan to have access to free counselling services in various communities across the province. Counselling is typically associated with mental health issues, but it can be used for a wide variety of minor and major concerns.          

With the government’s commitment to address mental health issues in youths, this step has great implications for the health and wellbeing of young people in Saskatchewan. “The ability to quickly connect young people with the health services they need is crucial for improving the well-being of our communities across the province,” said Dustin Duncan, who at the time of the plan’s announcement was the Minister of Education and Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA.  

According to a news release from the Government of Saskatchewan on June 30, 2023, Family Services Saskatchewan (FSSK) is expected to receive “$3.2 million in annual funding: $1.7 million in new funding for expanding rapid access counselling services to children and youth, and $1.5 million to provide ongoing services to adults and families in more than 20 communities.”  

In another release from June 14, 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan said that rapid counselling services are now available “to children and youth in at least 13 communities across the province and to adults in Assiniboia, Biggar, Craik, Cudworth, Estevan, Gravelbourg, Humboldt, Kamsack, Kelvington, Kindersley, Leader, Martensville, Moose Jaw, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Regina, Rosetown, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Unity, Wadena, Weyburn, Wynyard and Yorkton.”  

Notably, these offerings are only in communities in Central and Southern regions of the province. Remote and Northern communities, already lacking in health services and easily accessible health care, are not included.  

Besides this, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has also provided guidelines on supporting teenagers when they are being counselled. This includes guidelines like respecting your teen’s privacy about what they talk about during private counselling, communicating with the counselors as needed, and simply being patient and positive towards the task being worked out and the teen receiving the care they deserve. Also on this website are different support services and hotlines in the event of a crisis. 

The importance given to mental health and youth tackling this issue reflects the priority given by the Government of Saskatchewan on this issue. The growing addiction and houselessness crisis being witnessed in the province negatively affects youth mental health. This reflects the poor state of the province which even students can see, even if they don’t know where it comes from. Thus, providing youths with counselling services for free could help youth understand themselves better and learn how to healthily deal with stressors in their lives, developing positive coping strategies early on. 

As the program continues to grow and help the people in the province of Saskatchewan, it is evident that there is a need for mental health services catered towards the younger population. Counselling service details are given on the FSSK website counsellingconnectsask.ca, which is easy-to-navigate and user-friendly.  

The “book now” tab helps people book appointments with a counsellor in their area. “There is no waiting list and no cost to you,” as indicated in the website. This makes it accessible to anyone and everyone who needs it. 

The FSSK website notes that their services can be used for common issues that people experience in their daily lives. They include issues ranging from isolation and loneliness to grief and loss, relationships, bullying, problem gambling, sleep issues, anxiety and depression, drugs and alcohol, and more. 

A service like this would provide them with a space to talk, discuss, and learn more about how to deal with those fears and battles often being fought alone. The website has two different setups for counselling. One is for children, youth, and their caregivers, and the other for a rapid-access counselling service for adults.  

Keeping both the tabs separate indicates the mindfulness of the topic being dealt with given the age and experience of the individual. This service is still being expanded to more communities to allow an even greater access to free counselling services in Saskatchewan.  

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