Youth on the south side of Chilliwack will now have increased access to free counselling services, thanks to a pilot project from the University of the Fraser Valley and the Chilliwack Youth Health Centre.
UFV will provide office space and a reception area for counselling sessions provided by the CYHC on Wednesday afternoons from 1 to 6 pm.
All youth aged 12 to 26 are eligible to attend the counselling sessions on a walk-in, first-come first-served basis. The services will be provided on the third floor of Building A on the Chilliwack campus at Canada Education Park.
Organizers are also working on a texting option for appointment making, using What’s App.
Counselling will be provided by clinical psychology doctoral students from Adler University’s Vancouver location.
Counsellors will be available to speak with young people about a range of concerns including anxiety, fears, and stress; depression and sadness; relationships with family and friends; schooling; substance use; grief and loss; suicidal thoughts; eating; sleep; sexuality; unhelpful behavioural patterns; and unusual thoughts. All counselling sessions are delivered under the supervision of senior clinicians from helping agencies in Chilliwack.
A brief, solution-focussed counselling model is employed. This is meant to focus conversation on the immediate concerns of the young person and to have them leave with a short-term plan.
The Chilliwack Youth Health Centre was formed by a coalition of community organizations in order to create spaces that provide health and wellness services to youth in a safe and supportive environment.
The CYHC operates two other sites — at the neighbourhood learning centre attached to Chilliwack Secondary and the Sto:lo Primary Health Care Centre. These sites offer appointments with both medical doctors and counsellors.
The UFV site will offer only counselling at this point.
UFV students from social work, social services, and criminal justice programs are working as interns with the CYHC to help set up and promote the pilot program.
“UFV is happy to be cooperating with CYHC to make the counselling services available in this area of the community,” says UFV Dean of Health Sciences Alastair Hodges. “We are one of the partner institutions supporting the CYHC and we look forward to more experiential learning opportunities for our UFV students as the partnership develops. This program will also introduce youth who use it to our campus and expose them to educational opportunities they may not be aware of.”
Rob Lees, the Mental Health Director for the CYHC, is excited about opening up more counselling spots for youth on the side of town where most of the young population of Chilliwack lives.
“We regularly see 40 youth per day for free counselling at our site on the north side. Most of the clientele at our Sto:lo site are on the older side of youth. So we wanted to find something additional on the south Sardis side of Chilliwack that youth from the neighbourhoods in the Mt. Slesse and GW Graham school areas could easily access.”
UFV students under the age of 26 are also welcome to make us of the free counselling service. Just drop in on the third floor of Building A on Wednesday afternoons.
The Chilliwack Youth Health Centre is supported by a number of partner agencies, including Chilliwack Community Services, the Chilliwack School District, the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, Chilliwack Local Action Team, Fraser Health, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, BC Ministry of Children and Families, Pacific Community Resources Society, Sto:lo Service Agency, and UFV.
Keep up with new developments in this pilot project. Follow the CYHC at @chilliwackyouthhealthcentre on Instagram and Chilliwack Youth Health Centre on Facebook.