An Edmonton non-profit counselling clinic is at risk of closing its doors and staff say the downturn in the economy may be to blame.
Momentum Walk-In Counselling is a walk-in clinic offering mental health services. It opened three years ago and is believed to be the only agency of its kind in the city.
The service provided by volunteer therapists is “pay what you can”, but executive director Kim Knull said demand is up and many clients aren’t able to pay much, if at all.
Knull said the clinic saw 1,000 clients in 2013, 1,200 in 2014, 1,500 in 2015 and is on track to see about 2,000 clients this year.
“We have a lot more people in this province who are stressed out. They are facing multiple difficulties – not just family difficulties or childhood issues, not with finances added to that, the loss of a job, the inability to get a job – we’re seeing a lot of people with a lot of stressors,” she said.
“I think with the downturn in the economy, more people are wanting to access low-cost services or services where typically they may have been able to access through their employment,” volunteer therapist RaeLene Marion said.
“The demand for service has, at times, exceeded the number of people on the team.”
Knull said about 40 per cent of clients are currently not able to pay for the counselling. The clinic costs $400,000 to run every year with the money coming from grants and fundraising. But right now, the clinic is operating on a month-to-month basis.
Knull said the clinic has cut back on wages, staff, cleaning services, furniture, office supplies and promotional materials to stay afloat, but it may soon have to shut its doors.
“That puts a huge burden on us to be able to subsidize those services. We’re really desperate at this point.”
“If we can’t make enough money from grants or from fundraising to cover our expenses, then we will close our doors by the end of the year,” she said.
Marion said a walk-in service is critical for clients, who will suffer if the clinic shuts its doors.
“Sometimes, to access a private counsellor, [it] will take some time to get an appointment set up and here they don’t have to call to schedule an appointment, they can just walk in,” she said.
“It gives a person an opportunity to talk to somebody when they’re in crisis, when they need that support right away.”
Knull is asking for support from government and from the community to keep the service open.
“If we have healthy Albertans, we’re going to have healthy employees, healthy families, and healthy children. It really goes a long way to supporting the rebuilding of this province,” she said.
If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact the 24 hour Distress Line at 780-482-HELP (4357)