Thunder Bay Counselling Changes Service Model to Support Local Mental Health Needs during Ongoing Pandemic

Community donations to the United Way of Thunder Bay provide the needed financial assistance to transform local counselling services.

 Monday July 20, 2020, Thunder Bay, ON – Since March, Thunder Bay Counselling has supported over 850 individuals in Thunder Bay through virtual care and remote access services — a number that agency representatives say wouldn’t have been possible without community assistance.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded earlier this year, funds from the United Way of Thunder Bay were quickly mobilized to help Thunder Bay Counselling transition all of its community programs and services to virtual care and remote access models. The agency established remote offices for clinical and financial counsellors, purchased ZOOM Telehealth virtual as well as emergency supplies for clients in need such as groceries, transportation, phone access and other basic necessities.

“The United Way of Thunder Bay supported Thunder Bay Counselling as our team charted unknown territory and devised a crisis plan to be able to continue to deliver services. This crucial funding allowed us to make rapid changes to become a virtual service provider within a matter of days. Without their support, our agency would not have been able to maintain our services to people with mental health and wellness challenges,” says Nancy Chamberlain, Executive Director of Thunder Bay Counselling.

Thunder Bay Counselling was also able to shift from weekly Walk-In Counselling to daily Talk-In Counselling utilizing new technology and employing additional staffing. It also enhanced financial counselling services that continue to be in high demand.  “New and existing clients experienced continuity of care for issues such as violence against women, mental health and addiction, victimization, financial concerns, human trafficking, stress, grief, and depression. In some circumstances this funding not only curbed the threat of the virus, but kept families and loved ones healthy and safe,” continues Chamberlain.

Thunder Bay Counselling continues to be a strong resource to people from all walks of life as well as partners in social services, school systems, the justice system and health service providers.  Almost 200 of the clients supported to date have been under the age of 18.  A large number of people continue to reach out for financial counselling and advisory services as they struggle against job layoffs, losses and business closures. Others report significant stress related to returning to work, as well as balancing working from home with child care needs.

“As many businesses reopen and people return to work, there is a considerable amount of uncertainty and anxiety being felt across the community. These feelings span across diverse ages, socio-economic status and backgrounds. We are working with individuals and families, but also with employers to help the community continue to access counselling and support services when they need them. If people need to talk, we are ready to help,” says Chamberlain.

The United Way of Thunder Bay raises money annually to support local organizations address issues of poverty. This year, the United Way of Thunder Bay has allocated significant community funds to assist local organizations in tackling the impacts of COVID-19.


Media contact:

Stephanie Ash
Firedog Communications
Tel: (807) 472-5276