3 min read

Mental Health Matters. A message from our CEO

As a born and raised Calgarian who has spent the last twenty years working in the social impact sector, I can say without a doubt, that mental health matters.  

The mental well-being of individuals in our neighbourhoods impacts the fibres of our community. It is essential to create the vibrant and thriving city that we all wish to call home.   

Now more than ever, Calgarians are facing a multitude of challenges impacting their quality of life and mental well-being. Skyrocketing inflation and other external stressors are leaving community members with significantly increased levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. In Alberta, 68% of non-profits have identified increased service demand, and 74% have identified an increased level of complexity of need¹. carya is no exception. 

While carya works diligently to provide various mental health and counselling services to meet the emergent needs of the Calgary community, growing demand and reductions in government funding mean wait times to access these critical services continue to increase.  

A recent poll conducted by the Government of Canada indicated that 56% of Canadians who said they needed mental health support are not getting the help they need². 

Last year, carya’s team of clinical experts were able to provide over 18,500 counselling sessions to nearly 2,800 Calgarians in need. carya provides these low or no-cost services from various locations across Calgary, including virtual sessions, to reduce barriers and provide supports when and where our community needs us most.

Unfortunately, carya’s low or no-cost model is one of few options an individual or family may have to receive comprehensive support with a clinical therapist. Comparable services from a private provider would cost upwards of $200 per hour. With 42% of Calgarians not having mental health supports or services through their employer³, this option is simply out of reach for many in our city.  

This lack of affordable services translates to high demand and long waitlists to access carya programs.  For some counselling services, carya is currently forecasting a waiting period of 8 – 12 weeks, and with reductions in funding, we expect to see that number grow in the coming months.  

carya knows mental health matters and is urgently working to meet the growing demand in our community. To support individuals requiring immediate care, carya has developed a comprehensive offering of group programs which focus on areas such as grief and loss, anxiety management, unpacking emotions and more. These programs focus on building resiliency, mitigating mental health crises, and enhancing mental well-being. For many, these programs are proactive steps towards improved mental health, and can serve as an alternative or intermediate option for those waiting for formal counselling services.

Since 1910, carya has been there for the Calgary community when and where they need us most. And right now, our community needs affordable mental health and counselling services. 

We know we cannot do this work alone and will continue to foster impactful partnerships in our sector. carya will continue to advocate for funding increases and call upon our community to make meaningful investments in these essential services. 

Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day; a day that has done a remarkable job of amplifying conversations around the importance of mental health. On this day, I challenge you to help create positive change, and work towards a city where everyone can get the mental health support they need when they need it – because mental health matters.

To learn more about carya’s mental health and counselling services and how you can make a difference, please reach out via email, or visit www.caryacalgary.ca 


Paula Telfer
Chief Executive Officer, carya