Crisis counselling fund to meet need

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A need for crisis counselling for those feeling suicidal or undergoing trauma or sudden grief has prompted the Gore Counselling Centre to set up an emergency counselling fund. Centre manager Bill Rout said the centre had walk-in clients who were not covered by any of the existing funded contract areas offered by the service and often they were not able to afford to pay for counselling. The centre had observed there was an increased need for mental health services in the Gore district for some time, he said. As well as those walking in off the street, people were being referred to the service by doctors. The centre had a policy of not turning people away when they needed counselling in times of crisis and the newly set-up fund would cover part or all of the costs, Mr Rout said. It was envisaged the counselling paid for by the emergency fund would be one-off or short term. He believed people were less able to afford counselling than previously, Mr Rout said. In 2010 about 17% of the centre’s total income came from self-paying clients but this year that figure had dropped to 6%, he said. ‘‘We think [it is] because people can’t afford to pay for counselling any more,’’ Mr Rout said. ‘‘That’s a worrying trend,’’ he said. He was aware services were stretched and unable to meet the burgeoning need. The centre had between 400 and 500 clients a year and had three general counsellors and three alcohol and other drug counsellors, he said.
It was envisaged the money for the fund would come from individual or business donations, Mr Rout said.
The centre was a registered charity and donations were tax-deductible, he said.
Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said there was no doubt there was a need for crisis counselling in the community.
Economic stresses such as those being felt in the rural sector necessitated the provision of such services, he said.
The counselling centre provided a vital service to the community.
The centre was unique in that it was owned and operated locally, he said.
Gore and Districts Depression Support Group coorganiser Stella Griffiths said it was great the counselling centre was stepping up to provide a much-needed service.
A place for people who were depressed and might be having suicidal thoughts to come and talk was much needed.
Sometimes people just needed to be talk through what they were feeling, she said.
‘‘I just think it’s fantastic. There needs to be somewhere for people to turn,’’ Mrs Griffiths said.
Group co-organiser Vanessa Andrews also welcomed the initiative.
‘‘It’s definitely something that is needed. I think there is a need, especially with the number of suicides there has been,’’ Ms Andrews said.
If anyone wanted to give to the fund they could contact him at the centre, Mr Rout said.