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Moncton’s free youth counselling organization raising $1.4M to expand service

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An organization offering free mental health counselling to youth in the greater Moncton area is trying to raise money to expand. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, the goal is to provide better care -- and make it more accessible – Aug 17, 2022

Atlantic Wellness, an organization that provides free mental health counselling to youth between the ages 12 and 21, is looking to raise $1.4 million dollars from the public to move to a bigger location and offer services to francophones.

It has already raised $2.1 million dollars of the $3.5 million they need to expand through a combination of government funding and private sponsorship.

Steve Mitton, who serves as chair of the board for the organization, said in an interview on Wednesday that a job posting had already been advertised for one of the francophone counsellors they want to hire.

“We’re looking for (a place) that has ten to twelve office spaces, and a large room because we do group therapy as well. Parking spaces where parents can park, ideally,” he said.

Read more: Mental health advocates say need for support in N.B. doubled amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Doonations can be made through the organization’s website until September 16th.

Kane Melanson said the service was lifesaving for his son after he was discharged from the Moncton Hospital’s psychiatric ward.

“This was a critical time in our son’s life, where he needed timely follow up and ongoing mental health support but our public healthcare system wasn’t able to provide it after discharge,” he said on Wednesday.

He said sending his son to see counsellors in the private sector wasn’t sustainable for his family’s budget.

Read more: ‘You matter’: New project promotes awareness for mental health in Saint John

“We did do private counselling, depending on who we were seeing at the time the average would have been around $200 dollars an hour. So during periods of crisis there were two challenges. One, it wasn’t readily accessible in a timely manner and two, it wasn’t sustainable on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Maxie Rose, who works as an outreach counselling therapist for Atlantic Wellness, said they have seen firsthand the impact regular counselling has on youth.

“I still have a couple of clients who I started with in my internship over a year ago, I have being seeing them straight through until now. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the youth, especially my younger ones who are 12 and 13. They’ve made really big life strides and I’m super proud of them,” they said.

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