Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing public mental health demands have led to challenges finding locally available services. There is a critical need to make local high-quality counselling easier to access for communities across Ontario. A recent study across five of Ontario Family Service’s member agencies showed an increase in demand for counselling appointments of over 40% since the start of the pandemic. Across the province agencies are reporting an unprecedented demand for service.

With in-person sessions greatly impacted by COVID-19, the Ontario Counselling Finder was created to help reduce barriers to access and increase program visibility across Ontario. Over 40 member agencies have come together to provide a platform to promote their service availability and offer virtual counselling, increasing service access for vulnerable families and communities throughout the province. With the website launch today, individuals, couples and families across Ontario can find providers and, in some cases, make appointments for counselling through one single door:

“For decades Family Service Ontario has tackled some of the most pressing social issues in the province’s social service sector,” says Susan Wells, Chief Executive Officer at Family Service Ontario. “Right now the need for easy access to counselling, psychotherapy and community based support is higher than ever.”

“Our hope is to increase awareness that these services are available, and to reduce the barriers in accessing them” says Michelle Bergin, Executive Director of Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County. “There’s always a concern about having the capacity to deal with demand, but our hope is that initiatives like this one can also raise awareness about the urgent need for more mental health funding.”

With experienced therapists coming from multiple backgrounds and speaking multiple languages, the Ontario Counselling Finder aims to provide a diverse and inclusive environment. The network of therapists are all registered and experienced professionals, who work in collaboration with local services to assist clients access to other supports as needed.