March 21, 2018 10:07 am

Free walk-in mental health clinic to open doors in Moncton Wednesday

WATCH: A mental health pilot project is set to start in Moncton on Wednesday. As Shelley Steeves reports, depending on its success – the Canadian Mental Health Association may consider opening more mental health clinics in the province.

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At least 40 people have expressed interest in seeing a counselor at the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick’s first free walk-in mental health clinic, a pilot project that started in Moncton on Wednesday.

“I think it will be a busy day,” said Kristen Barnes, director of operations at the Canadian Mental Health Association of New Brunswick.

Barnes said the pilot project was spearheaded by a local counselor who wanted to provide free counselling sessions for clients in need of mental health support.

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“It could be anxiety, depression symptoms. It is not necessarily meant for someone who is in crisis,” she said.

Barnes added the clinical sessions, which would last about 45 minutes, could provide support for people who are going through a stressful time, perhaps people who have lost a family member or a job and would benefit from speaking to a counselor.

Barnes says there are no plans to make the free service available to youth just yet. But the clinic will be open for about three hours per week to counsel adults.

That’s something Taylor Gauence, a youth counselling therapist at the Atlantic Wellness Centre in Moncton, would like to see. There is a need in the community for free mental health support for struggling youth, she said.

“Youth have the same problems as adults. They have a lot of stuff that goes on in their lives. So having something that is accessible for them is just as important as something for adults,” Gauence said.

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According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, at least 40 people have already expressed interest in using the service.

Barnes says if the project is a success, the association will consider expanding the hours and opening up more free clinics in other cities in New Brunswick, as long as there are counselors willing to donate their time.

“What we are offering is based on volunteering from a mental health professional,” said Barnes, adding that the focus at the moment is to get the pilot project in Moncton off the ground.

Guaence says she would consider volunteering her time if it meant she could help someone before his or her situation turned critical.

“I think it is a preventative measure that could have a huge impact on people’s lives,” she said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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