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Woolwich Counselling offers free phone, video sessions in response to COVID-19 situation

Woolwich Counselling executive director Amanda Wood-Atkinson [Joe Merlihan]

There are many uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures implemented to slow the virus’ spread, but one thing we know for sure: these are stressful times.

With that reality in mind, the Woolwich Counselling Centre (WCC) is offering free counselling sessions via telephone or video chat.

The services are being offered through April 5 in conjunction with the Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region, funding by the Waterloo-Wellington Local Health Integration Network.

Woolwich Counselling executive director Amanda Wood-Atkinson said those in the mental health sector expect the stress of coping with the COVID-19 outbreak and resultant measures will have an impact across all demographics, from children through seniors.

“There are any number of reasons for people to have anxiety, including the stress of managing all the news coming at them,” she said.

Though the centre has cancelled in-person sessions, it’s using technology to stay in touch with existing clients, and to take on new ones.

“We’ve already closed our doors to face-to-face sessions, but we’re finding alternatives to serve our clients,” said Wood-Atkinson. “And we’re still continuing to take new referrals.”

The centre’s six counsellors remain hard at work, she added.

“We still need to help the people, we just need to find different ways to do so,” added Woolwich Counselling board chair Iris Miltenburg.

“It’s important to stay connected to the community.”

WCC has been getting assistance from larger agencies such as K-W Counselling and Carizon, who have more resources for rolling out technological alternatives, added Miltenburg.

“They’re really good about that, and they share with us.”

Both she and Wood-Atkinson expect an uptick in the number of people who may need counselling in the current climate. That’s why WCC is scrambling to meet the need.

“We know that we have the ability and the expertise here to help the community,” said Wood-Atkinson.

To book a free session, you can call 519-669-8651. Wood-Atkins notes sessions via phone or video are for those seeking support for mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress.  Those experiencing severe symptoms or in crisis are asked to contact Here 24/7 at 1-884-437-3247 (Here247).

Current funding for WCC’s free sessions runs until April 5, but the organization is hoping that will be extended given that the crisis will not have past by that time.

“It’s not going to be over in two weeks,” said Miltenburg.

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