Community Connect YYC: Revamping Counselling

Community Connect YYC: Revamping Counselling

Finding counselling and therapy services is a stressful task that weighs heavily on those wanting to better themselves but don’t have a clear idea of where to go and who to talk to. 

With a collaboration of Calgary community partners devoted to helping Calgarians improve their mental health and well-being, Community Connect YYC has become a viable solution. 

Community Connect YYC is the new way to find rapid counselling from the comfort of home.

Accommodating Counselling Services For Calgarians

Community Connect YYC (CCYYC) is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for members of the Calgary community to find affordable counselling services and other social supports. CCYYC is a 24/7 online booking tool allowing Calgarians to book an appointment whenever they feel ready to do so.

Since timeliness is vital when it comes to addressing mental health, the CCYYC platform has ensured that people will have access to support within a couple of days.

CCYYC is a Calgary collaborative project that is formed with generous community partners including Catholic Family Services, Centre for Sexuality, CUPS, and YWCA.

CMHA Calgary is honoured and proud to be a part of this project as the fifth community partner of Community Connect YYC offering connection and guidance for individuals and families.

As a Community Connect YYC partner, we are offering two types of counselling sessions. Suicide Bereavement counselling focuses on developing coping strategies to stay well after the loss of a loved one. Family Support provides supportive counselling for family members caring for a loved one with a mental health or substance use concern.

The Comfort of Virtual Offices

Our head counsellor at CMHA Calgary, Sonya Quinlan-Jacob, believes CCYYC is a secure outlet for Calgarians to address their mental health concerns on their own doing.

“[CCYYC] is a connection tool for people to gain quicker access to counselling and support that they need. It’s easier for people to access the correct services when they are able to identify them for themselves.”

Quinlan-Jacob has seen an increase in her clients showing signs of connection with service providers and service groups because of the additional offerings that are available online.

As a CCYYC community agency, Quinlan-Jacob is looking forward to being apart of the shift from unattainable, expensive services to easy, accessible counselling services for Calgarians.

“… [I’m excited to] collaborate with other agencies so that we can reach more Calgarians much faster.”

How Community Connect YYC Reimagines Counselling Supports

Community Connect YYC project leader, Vanessa McConnell, is also the manager of counselling services at Catholic Family Services.

Ever since the mass success of Catholic Family Services Rapid Access Counselling, McConnell and her team were in discussions with other like-minded organizations about implementing counselling accessibility onto a bigger scale. 

“We had overwhelming positive feedback with the ability to online book. We brought that concept to this collaborative that was talking about challenges related to system navigation and barriers to access and that’s sort of where the idea was born.” 

With CCYYC, McConnell and her team want to push the narrative that this initiative is about placing power into the hands of community members as opposed to CCYYC gatekeeping the counselling process.

“It’s not necessarily about the distinction of the counselling support itself – it’s about the way in which people can access it. The crux of Community Connect is all about timely access and supporting people when they need it most.” 

Vanessa McConnell | Community Connect YYC

McConnell recognized that the timing of the CCYYC launch could not have come at a better time with most people still stationed at home due to COVID-19. 

“We saw more momentum when the pandemic hit and just really noticed the need that all our services should be virtual; virtual booking only makes sense.”

Since the launch of Community Connect YYC in August, the preliminary findings show Calgary users are reacting positive to service accessibilities, leaving their sessions with a better understanding of next steps and would recommend the platform to others.

Although the journey is just beginning for Community Connect YYC, McConnell says they have already received mass inquiries from other agencies wanting to add their services to the CCYYC platform as well as additional funding to produce five more community partners by early 2021. 

For more information about Community Connect YYC and its services, please visit their website at www.communityconnectyyc.ca

Our Welcome Centre is now open for one-on-one peer support on Wednesdays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Peer Support program services can be accessed over the phone at 403-297-1402 or through email at peer@cmha.calgary.ab.ca. Counselling programs for Suicide Bereavement and Family Support are also still available through phone at 403-297-1708, email counsellingintake@cmha.calgary.ab.ca or online through Community Connect YYC.