New website aims to improve access to counseling services

Ontario Counseling Finder, developed by Orillia Corporation, “created to help reduce barriers to access and increase program visibility”

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing public mental health demands have led to challenges in finding locally available services.

Facilitating access to high quality, local counseling services for communities across Ontario is essential. A recent study of five of Family Services Ontario’s member agencies showed an increase in demand for counseling appointments of more than 40% since the start of the pandemic. Agencies across the province are reporting unprecedented demand for services.

With in-person sessions greatly impacted by COVID-19, the Ontario Counseling Finder has been created to help reduce barriers to access and increase program visibility across Ontario. More than 40 member agencies have come together to provide a platform to promote the availability of their services and offer virtual counseling, increasing access to services for vulnerable families and communities across the province. With the website launching on Monday, individuals, couples and families across Ontario can find providers and, in some cases, book counseling appointments through one door:

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

“Our hope is to raise awareness of these services and reduce barriers to accessing them,” says Michelle Bergin, executive director of Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County. “There are always concerns about having the capacity to meet the demand, but we hope that initiatives like this can also raise awareness of the urgent need for increased funding for mental health.

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

Family Services Ontario represents more than 40 not-for-profit member agencies across the province that serve more than 250,000 individuals, couples and families each year. Family service agencies fill gaps in mental health and wellness services for those who do not meet the criteria for other services and/or who cannot afford to pay for individual counselling, couple or family.

Family Services Ontario, with the help of Caredove, an Orillia-based software company, launched the Ontario Counseling Finder website using Caredove’s WebBuilder, where members of the public can enter their home address to find the nearest Family Services Ontario member agency. Member agencies may optionally allow the public to request an admissions appointment via the secure electronic referral platform.

The 10 lead agencies are Catholic Family Services of Durham, Family Services Windsor-Essex, Family Counseling Center Niagara, Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County, Catholic Family Services of Toronto, Carizon Family and Community Services, Family Service Ottawa, Jewish Family Services Ottawa, and Willowbridge Community Services, with more than 30 other agencies listed in the search directory.


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