A new campaign is asking Alberta psychologists to do their part to help make counselling services available for everyone, regardless of cost.
"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" asks psychologists to donate the equivalent of a one-hour therapy session to someone who needs it, but can't afford it.
In the midst of an economic downturn and with individual counselling sessions costing around $190, Edmonton psychologist Sharon Smith said it's important for all Albertans to be able to access crucial mental health services when they need them.
"I think in these difficult times that Alberta's experiencing, we're going to see a lot more people struggling, because people are losing their jobs which means they're losing their private health care benefits," Smith said. "(This campaign) is really helpful for all levels of Albertans."
The campaign aims to raise $100,000 for the PAA Psychological Services Funds. Over time, these permanent endowment funds generate interest payments. Canadian mental health service providers and psychologists can apply to the fund on behalf of clients in need, Smith said. Clients can receive a maximum of seven sessions per year through the fund, she said.
Smith said it's a useful avenue for people who are unemployed, on income assistance, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, or seniors who need support to be able to afford private psychologists' fees.
There's been no initiative to increase the principal of the funds in the last ten years, she added.
"If every psychologist that is registered in Alberta right now themselves donated just one hour, we would increase the principal's fund by 350 per cent," Smith said. "So that's a lot more available interest for people to be able to get services."
The campaign ends March 5. By Friday afternoon, around $4,300 had been raised.
It's not just a challenge for psychologists, Smith said. Everyday Albertans are also welcome to participate.
"Although we are putting the call out and heavily challenging psychologists, any Albertan that is willing to contribute to this fund to help increase the access for average Albertans to good psychological services that are available in private practice would be very welcome."