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Walk In Counselling

posted by Leslie Josling

On January 20, 2015 I had the opportunity to present at the Ontario Pre-Budget Consultation in Cambridge, ON. The topic: Walk In Counselling Clinics.

In 2007, KW Counselling Services launched a Walk In Counselling Clinic—one of the first and largest such clinics in the province – and I am extremely proud of the work we’ve done. Since opening, the Clinic has served thousands of individuals who expressed that they were surprised and relieved to be able to speak with a therapist on the same day.

Our WICC is open every Thursday from noon-6pm. Therapists at the clinic offer a one and a half to two-hour session to clients who might otherwise visit the oversubscribed Emergency Department.

I asked that the Ministry of Health provide funding directly to the LHINs (Local Health Integration Networks) to divert people with mental health and addiction problems away from expensive Emergency Department services and toward the more accessible Walk In Counselling services.

Our Request Is Supported By the Research

In our first Walk In Counselling Clinic study, almost 20% of clients reported that they would have visited the Emergency Room if the WICC had not been available. A visit to Emergency is three times as costly as a visit to Walk In. One third of clients visiting Emergency with mental health issues are admitted as in-patients. Averting just one in-patient stay saves $8000.

Our most recent study, conducted in 2013-2014, further examined the cost and clinical effectiveness of our WICC. This study showed that clients who present with complex trauma, anxiety or depression benefit most from Walk In Counselling vs. traditional counselling services. We are excited to report that almost half of visitors to the WICC are men. This makes it far more accessible to men than traditional counselling where only 30-40% of the clients are men.

If clients visiting the WICC are missing work or unable to perform their normal activities then a faster improvement should definitely result in savings for employers who have to pay for fewer sick days and disability leaves.

The Ministry of Health estimates that the costs of mental illnesses and addictions outside the health sector were in the order of $39 billion annually. Walk In has a significant impact with returns experienced in workplace costs including reduced disability and insurance costs.

Funding for Walk In Counselling Clinics in Family Service agencies has now been granted by three LHINs in Champlain, North East and North Simcoe Muskoka. We are asking that the Ministry of Health provide funding to replicate this solution across Ontario and KW Counselling Services is ready to help by sharing our service model.

Watch this space for future updates!