“The first time I accessed counselling, I remember that I was feeling overwhelmed by life and wanted to talk with someone about my emotions.”

That quote is from Tiffany, who has a unique role with the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counselling Centre (GVCCC). Not only has she been a client and experienced firsthand the impact of the GVCCC services, but she became a volunteer counsellor providing a safe space for others to work through their own difficulties.

Over its more than 50 years, GVCCC has helped thousands of people attain socially and psychologically satisfying lives by providing quality, accessible volunteer counselling services. It’s witnessing the transformation that happens to clients over the course of their sessions that Tiffany said is the best part of volunteering at the Centre.

“I have accessed both individual and couples counselling through Citizens’ Counselling Centre. After receiving counselling, I decided to apply to take the training program and then became a volunteer for the organization,” said Tiffany. “I have always known that I wanted to be a counsellor and the training program made it possible for me to learn about counselling in a powerful way, to dip my toes in, and to learn how to be a good counsellor.”

Through her volunteer work, Tiffany has seen the effects the pandemic has had on people’s mental health, with increased cases of loneliness, depression, anxiety and fear. It’s for these reasons she feels the work GVCCC does is so important.

“Mental health is not prioritized in our society and is stigmatized in a way that not only inhibits people from accessing services when they need them but services are not commonly provided in an accessible way,” said Tiffany. “Having sliding scale counselling makes an essential service available to anyone who needs it, regardless of their budget. Further, it helps to remove the stigma and barriers around accessing mental health support because it is now something that anyone can access, and then tell others about.”

Due to COVID-19, the demand for mental health services has increased by up to 50% on Southern Vancouver Island. The need for counselling, outreach and peer support services will continue to grow as we live through this pandemic and its aftermath.

There are many other people on Southern Vancouver Island who are suffering but can’t get help due to the long waitlists or limited service hours. For someone who is in crisis, these kinds of delays can be catastrophic.

You can help heal hearts and minds through United Way’s Blue Love Campaign for Mental Health.

United Way’s goal is to raise $1 Million by the end of December 2021 to fund counselling, peer support and outreach services across Southern Vancouver Island at community partner organizations like Citizens’ Counselling Centre where Tiffany got help.

“At a time in my life when I desperately needed counselling and support, Citizens’ Counselling Centre provided a service that made this accessible to me,” said Tiffany. “Without this organization, I don’t know where I’d be today.”

Thanks to a generous donation from Proud Presenting Partner, Peninsula Co-op, your gift to United Way’s Blue Love Campaign will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100,000 meaning you can DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT. Please donate today.