We are social beings, so it is not surprising that relationships support our health and well-being. However, this fact is often overlooked in our treatment of health, including mental health, which treats individuals and their illnesses.
The doors closed at Catholic Family Services of Hamilton on April 30th, after 74 years of service. This is the third family service agency in Ontario to close since the onset of the pandemic, with the others being in Thunder Bay and Northumberland. In each case, the ministry-funded programs live on through other service providers in the community. But family service agencies are more than a collection of their programs. Family service agencies play a critical role in the system of care.
For over 50 years family service agencies have been the primary source for low to moderate mental health services across Ontario. With walk-in clinics and minimal wait times for service, family service agencies are one the frontlines for mental health services.
As a provincial network of 42 members serving women who have experienced intimate partner violence, as well as offenders, through twenty-one of Ontario’s Partner Assault Response (PAR) programs, we believe meaningful change is needed to prevent intimate partner violence and femicide.
New Ontario Counselling Finder website from Family Service Ontario provides counselling from over 40 non-profit providers across Ontario.
Family service agencies play a vital role in Ontario’s mental-health eco-system. Individuals, couples, and families come to us for a variety of reasons, but often because the services they need do not exist for those without the means to pay for a private therapist.
Family Service Ontario strongly agrees that a “major shift is needed” in the provision of mental-health supports to address the number of people falling through the gaps in care.
The next wave has started, and it is looking like a tsunami, with a lack of resources to respond. The next wave is the increased need for mental health, couple, and family therapy services.