New funding will allow DIVERSEcity to help more people with its free, first-language mental health services

Meeting the demand for mental health and counselling services is an ongoing challenge with about 17 per cent of British Columbians (or 800,000 people), experiencing a mental illness or substance use issue.* There are just not enough mental health and addictions services, especially accessible, low-cost services for the growing need. When it comes to the immigrant and refugee population in BC, accessing mental health services presents additional obstacles due to language and cultural barriers, on top of financial ones.

DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, a registered charity based in Surrey, BC, has a Counselling Services department that has been dedicated to providing free clinical counselling services and substance use counselling to the region’s diverse and marginalized populations for 22 years. However, as with all mental health services today, demand is always greater than capacity. Today, DIVERSEcity is pleased to announce it is a recipient of a Community Counselling Grant from the provincially funded Community Action Initiative (CAI), designed to increase community-based non-profit service organizations’ ability to help more people at the local level.

“We are grateful that the provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is continuing to make a positive impact in our communities by providing organizations like ours the capacity to provide much-needed counselling support to underserved and hard-to-reach individuals with complex mental health needs. The significant waitlists that families face due to chronic underfunding of a fast-growing city like Surrey will be greatly alleviated with this new funding,” said Neelam Sahota, CEO, DIVERSEcity.

“In 2018–2019 alone, we helped 2,100 clients through our counselling services at DIVERSEcity. This funding will allow us to expand the reach of our free, culturally informed mental health services so we can help even more people,” Sahota added.

The three-year Community Counselling Grant will allow DIVERSEcity to reduce waitlist times for its existing mental health and substance use services by funding additional staff resources so it can better meet the needs of the fast-growing population in Surrey and its surrounding areas.

“For far too long, people in BC have struggled to find accessible, affordable counselling and other mental health and substance use supports,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This new, multi-year funding is a vital component of ensuring that the ability to get help should not depend on the size of your bank account or where you live in the province.”

DIVERSEcity’s Counselling Services provide culturally informed support in many first languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Farsi and English. Newcomers, both adults and youth, are faced with many changes, challenges and losses that come with immigrating to a new country. Many also come to Canada to escape war, injustice and trauma. DIVERSEcity’s professionally trained, compassionate counsellors support them in their journey to emotional wellbeing through clinical counselling, substance use counselling and other specialized programs.

For more information about DIVERSEcity and its counselling services, see

* Source: Canadian Mental Health Association

Margaret Jetelina

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