Counselling centres in Kamloops and Vernon get big funding

Big bucks for mental health

Mental health services across the province received a big boost in funding. The B.C. government is awarding $10 million in grants toward 29 community counselling programs, and an organization in Vernon is one of the recipients.

$37,000 per year over the next three years from the Community Counselling Grants program will be given to the Independent Living Vernon Society. Independent Living focuses on providing guidance to people with disabilities and helping them reach their full potential.

It's safe to say they are excited to be chosen.

"When I heard the news I had to stop myself from crying," said Laura Hockman, the Executive Director of Independent Living Vernon. "This funding will take a weight off our shoulders wondering where our money will be coming in so we can focus on helping people in the community."

Funding for these types of clinics can be scarce, and many wonder if they will receive enough to continue their services. That's why the province felt that this program was necessary.

"There has been this huge gap in our system that has been ignored," said Judy Darcy, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "We wanted to focus on making health care more accessible for people from the whole socioeconomic spectrum. Your access to care and counselling shouldn't depend on your bank account."

This funding covers a wide range of issues like accessibility, prevention, mental health addictions counselling. The point of the funding wasn't to build something new, but to strengthen what's already in place.

"We wanted to strengthen the services that are already established in the community," said Darcy. "Rolling out a brand new plan when there are already services in place wouldn't do any good, so the best option was to give those services some breathing room to do their job."

Aside from the Independent Living Society in Vernon, the Family Tree Family Centre in Kamloops was also selected to be a part of the grant program.

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