in the news: The Mental Health Services Protection Act introduced in Legislature

The Mental Health Services Protection Act was introduced in the Alberta Legislature yesterday. If passed, it will create a new college of Counselling Therapy and set standards for Counselling Therapists, Addiction Counsellors and Child and Youth Care Counsellors.

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in the news: Business tough on mental health

“Our identities are often what help us determine our career paths,” said Lori Tiemer, registered psychologist at Rivers Edge Counselling Centre. “When our careers (and) jobs are in line with our identities – so our interests, our abilities, personality, values – people often do have a greater sense of job satisfaction.”

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Nicole Imgrund on Global Edmonton

As demand for counselling in Alberta grows, the Federation of Associations of Counselling Therapists is urging the government to regulate the industry. Nicole Imgrund joined Erin Chalmers on Global News Morning Edmonton to talk about the need for regulation, explaining that right now anyone can call themselves a counsellor – and that needs to change.



 

River’s Edge Counselling Centre named as the recipient of the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce 2016 Ignite Award.

River’s Edge Counselling Centre is excited to be named as the recipient of the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce 2016 Ignite Award. Sponsored by Athabasca University Faculty of Business, the Ignite Award recognizes a small business that has demonstrated itself as the most dynamic start-up business in the St. Albert community. It is an honour to for us to be recognized in this way. We believe it is our commitment to excellence in care, service to the community, teaching, and working as a team, that has allowed River’s Edge to grow into a strong and healthy business that will continue to serve the mental health needs of St. Albert for many years to come. 

Clara Hughes Event

River's Edge Counselling Centre was proud to host Olympian Clara Hughes in our community on October 14th, 2016. She shared her inspiring story with over 800 kids at Leo Nickerson Elementary and 300 students at Paul Kane High School.

She then spoke at the Arden Theatre, sharing her personal journey through mental and physical pain, to a life where love and understanding can thrive. She was so moved by the work of the local organizations the event was supporting - SAIF, BAM, and OutLoud, that she donated 1000.00 from her book sales to those groups.

Clara stayed until well after midnight, signing books and connecting with people who stayed to experience her authentic and compassionate presence.

We hope the continued legacy of Clara's visit will be ongoing support for mental health organizations in our community and a deeper understanding for the challenges that people suffering with mental illness face every day. Her passionate challenge to us is to continue to fight stigma related to mental health and to advocate for increased access to mental health services in Alberta

local mental health initiatives that received support from this event:
 

SAIF (Stop Abuse in Families)
To provide free counselling services to those experiencing domestic violence.

 

BAM (Building Assets & Memories)

To support the Caelin Porter Mental Health Awareness Walk. Caelin was a St. Albert youth who brought light and love to his family, friends and many other people in our community through his warm, caring presence and music.St. Albert youth have organized this yearly walk following his suicide to bring support to other youth who struggle with mental illness. They donate all proceeds from the walk to the CMHA and SickNotWeak.

To support the 4UBYUS Conference (a one-day event run by youth, for adults who work with youth in our community, with a focus on mental health and wellness).
 

OutLoud

To support programs and activities for LGBTQ youth in St. Albert (ages 13-24), in a safe, supportive and fun environment.

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FACT-AB Calls for Increased Counsellor Regulations

Last week, Nicole spoke to the St. Albert Gazzette on the need to regulate the requirements and experience needed to to be considered a counsellor. As it stands, a person can call themselves a counselor without any experience, which can create problems for vulnerable people seeking help. 

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River's Edge in the News

We've recently had some opportunities to advocate in the media for increased accessibility of mental health services in Alberta. One way to improve the availability of quality mental services is to regulate the profession of counselling and psychotherapy in our province. Nicole was invited to participate in an Alberta Primetime interview to explain the significance of this regulation for the public. We will continue here at River's Edge to advocate for services that bring greater emotional, mental and spiritual health to all Albertans.



 

St. Albert counsellor sees room for mental-health improvement

Check out our article from the St. Albert Gazette:

A city counsellor says the provincial government’s recent action on mental health is a positive step, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

Nicole Imgrund, the owner of River’s Edge Counselling and the past president of the Alberta Chapter of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, points to the bipartisan mental-health review that will be co-chaired by Liberal MLA David Swann and NDP MLA Danielle Larivee and the recent auditor general’s report calling for increased access for Albertans as two significant steps in the right direction.

But she said there’s one big piece of the puzzle that’s missing: regulating the counselling and psychotherapy profession under a professional college like the nearly 30 other regulated healthcare professions in the province.

“We think the question of regulation would go great lengths to meeting the necessities outlined in that (auditor general’s) report, which is accessibility to services,” she said. “As an unregulated profession, there’s work that we can’t do.”

For example, because it’s not a regulated profession the cost of counselling may not be covered by many Albertans’ health benefit plans, and with professional rates that could run close to $200 per hour, that means many Albertans have difficulty accessing that service. In addition, she said there is some work within Alberta Health Services that unregulated practitioners can’t do.

There are mental health services covered for all Albertans under the provincial health insurance, but Imgrund said the system is currently stretched fairly thin and people don’t always get timely access to the counselling they need.

“What’s very common is we get calls from people who are on the wait list of one to three months for mental-health services,” she said. “There’s a gap. There’s an incredible gap.”

Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson said the provincial health-care provider does provide timely service in Alberta, and in St. Albert in particular.

At the St. Albert Community Mental Health Clinic, 350 people receive the support of the 15 therapists and counsellors in that office. He said patients are assessed by a health-care professional within a day or two of visiting the clinic, and depending on their needs, are connected with addictions or mental-health specialists.

“For adults, appointments are available within two to three weeks with a mental health therapist or within one to two weeks with an addiction counsellor and 80 per cent of families are offered an appointment with 30 days,” he said.

As Imgrund sees it, there are many situations where somebody struggling with minor stress or anxiety would benefit from some counselling to nip larger problems in the bud.

“When the whole system is weighted, there’s not enough services and people need to reach a certain threshold of being ill before they can access those services, then there’s not room for prevention, and I think counselling offers that to a lot of people,” she said.

Imgrund explained while there are similarities, counselling and psychotherapy differ from the regulated profession of psychology. Both disciplines use counselling and psychotherapy as part of the practice, but psychologists also do assessments and diagnose mental-health problems.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of mental-health workers, counsellors and psychotherapists in Alberta who don’t diagnose as it’s not part of their scope of practice, but who provide counselling and psychotherapy as treatment for people who have mental-health concerns, and that entire profession is unregulated,” she said.

Three provinces in Canada currently regulate the profession, and Imgrund said the Alberta chapter of the CCPA is advocating for Alberta to follow suit. She said the previous health minister Stephen Mandel was receptive to the idea, but the process was stalled with the changing of the guard during the recent provincial election.

She said the association has requested Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to look into the request to regulate the profession.

Donnae Schuhltz, Alberta Health public affairs officer, said the ministry is currently reviewing the counselling profession in the province, but as that review is still in the very early stages no decisions have been made.

“Regulating a new profession and/or creating a new regulatory college is very complex, with the process often taking multiple years,” she said.

Timothy Wilson, Hoffman’s press secretary, said the minister is supportive of the department’s review of the profession and she knows counsellors provide a valuable service to Albertans.