Mr. Kevin Falcon
Minster of Health
337 Parliament Building
Victoria, BC V8V 1X4

28 Feb 2010

Dear Mr. Falcon,

I am writing out of concern for the recent funding cuts from VIHA to the Greater Victoria Citizens’ Counseling Center. VIHA contributed $80,000 annually to the center, which is run largely on the labour of hundreds of volunteer counselors and a very small number of paid staff. In return for the funding, which represents about a third of the center’s budget, VIHA was able to refer patients with a range of mental health issues, of which anxiety and depression are the most common. In one year, the center provides services to about 1000 people, or in the range of 10,000 hours of service. Because the counseling is done by trained volunteers and by professionals like myself who volunteer their time, this is an incredible deal for the health system, and for the community. At $50 an hour, this would cost $500,000. At $100 plus – we’re looking at a value here of millions. Talk about leveraging.

I’m concerned about the funding cut for a few reasons. First, it just doesn’t make sense financially as outlined above.

The second reason is that the health system is already overloaded, and problems to do with mental health are rampant. And as more and more research is telling us, mental health problems translate into physical health problems down the road, not to mention problems with housing, policing, divorce, child welfare issues, unemployment, and other social costs to the system. Citizens’ Counseling Center is part of the solution to all this, and has been so for 40 years.

A third reason is that as a psychologist in private practice, I am frequently approached by people who are seeking low-cost mental health services, and I will have nowhere to refer them to if their problems are serious but not catastrophic. VIHA is not providing the kind of 1:1 counseling services that Citizens’ does.

I’m asking that you direct VIHA to reinstate the funding. This is a common sense decision that is easy to support for the above reasons, and shows that you and your ministry are taking effective action to deal with health and mental health issues that are so much on the minds of British Columbians.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Grady, Ph.D.
Registered psychologist.