YWCA and TELUS Health for Good Partnership Provides Free Counselling for Program Participants
Accessing counselling support often comes with barriers such as cost, time constraints, accessibility and stigma. TELUS Health for GoodTM is helping to break several of these barriers by offering YWCA Metro Vancouver program participants free, online counselling services provided by caring, registered mental health professionals.
Many of our YWCA program participants are mothers parenting alone or newcomers to Canada who are disproportionately impacted by the pressures of today’s challenging economic and social climates. These external factors, as well as everyday life, can have an impact on mental health. We know that mental health is unique and apparent in everyone’s lives. Accessing support can be life changing and this resource shouldn’t be reserved for individuals of a particular socio-economic status.
TELUS Health for Good is committed to helping Canadians access healthcare when and where they need it, and has made a commitment to provide over 1,000 free counselling sessions per year to women in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. In 2022, TELUS partnered with the YWCA Metro Vancouver on a four-month pilot program that offered free TELUS Health MyCare™ virtual counselling sessions to participants from YWCA employment programs, Single Mothers’ Support Services and housing tenants. Participants were each given free virtual access to five counselling sessions, and program managers have reported positive reviews:
“The TELUS Health for Good counselling service has benefitted a number of my clients. The feedback has been that the job search journey can be so stressful. They have found having a counsellor to talk through next steps has helped greatly. One client stated that being newer to Vancouver and not having a strong network here has been difficult. Having someone to talk to has been so helpful.”
- YWCA FOCUS@Work Career Advisor and Facilitator, Lana McMartin
“I really value this service and it has proven to be really helpful through some hard times.”
- Anna, Participant of Single Mothers’ Support Services
“Thank you for supporting such wonderful programming for us single moms! I’ve truly appreciated everything that’s been offered to us. I could really use this right now, as other counseling services I am able to access are only available through same day appointments with random counselors, not consistent support with the same therapist each time.”
- Maryam, Participant of Single Mother's Support Services
Following the success of the pilot project, TELUS announced a two-year partnership with YWCA Metro Vancouver to continue this service that provides private 1:1 sessions delivered virtually via TELUS Health MyCare, a free, easy-to-use smartphone app. The virtual platform allows for quick access to support, as well as mitigating commute barriers that can interfere with other life commitments and extends access to those who may live outside the city. Appointments are readily available and participants can usually see a counsellor within a few weeks of signing up, preventing prolonged wait times that can often discourage people from seeking help or showing up to appointments booked several months out. Other women-focused charities partnering with TELUS on this initiative are Dress for Success Vancouver and Mamas for Mamas.
“The pandemic has taken a toll on mothers, family caregivers, women and gender diverse people,” said Jill Schnarr, Chief Social Innovation and Communications Officer, TELUS. “As a world-leading technology company and a global healthcare leader, we are leveraging our technology, expertise and compassion for good. Helping more women through our TELUS Health for Good program, this expansion is about removing barriers, making it easier and more affordable to access mental health services and making a meaningful difference in their lives.”
Mirroring Schnarr’s words, we have noticed a significant strain on our clients post-COVID – strains that are leading to an increase in stress and anxiety. According to staff within our Single Mothers’ programs, the need for donated food has doubled since before the pandemic, with staff getting lots of inquiries across all our programs about how to access food donations and where parents can find inexpensive food. This has a direct correlation to the end of pandemic programs like CERB/CRB and increased price of food due to inflation. Food insecurity is just one part of a larger picture – these same families are also trying to find affordable housing. In some cases, the reason they can’t afford food is because they are spending so much on rent. The industry-wide average one-hour counselling session is $135, which puts that support out of reach for a lot of people, especially those struggling to put food on the table.
These additional external pressures, compounded with starting afresh in a new country, leaving loved ones, unemployment, and/or single-parenting can prove challenging for our clients. We are hopeful that access to TELUS Health for Good counselling services will continue to be beneficial to our program recipients and are grateful to once again be partnering with TELUS on such an impactful community initiative.
About TELUS Health for Good
Since 2014, TELUS Health for Good has been connecting underserved individuals to the medical and mental health care they need using the power of technology. In addition to our partnership, their Mobile Health Clinics also provide essential primary medical care to individuals living on the streets across 23 Canadian communities, and have supported nearly 150,000 patient visits since the program’s inception. The program also supports low-income older adults to live more independently and enjoy peace of mind with subsidized access to TELUS LivingWell Companion™.
Visit telus.com/healthforgood to learn more.