Beyond books: Walk-in counselling offered at Saskatoon libraries

Frances Morrison Library is now a point of access for free counselling sessions for anyone from parents and teens working on their relationships to people trying to cope with anxiety.

Service funded by the Ministry of Health

Frances Morrison Library is teaming up with Family Service Saskatoon to offer free walk-in counselling for people who can't wait weeks for an appointment. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The role of libraries is changing across the country. In Saskatoon, it means beefing up public service offerings.

Now the Frances Morrison Library is teaming up with Family Service Saskatoon to offer free walk-in counselling for people who can't wait weeks for an appointment.

For two Fridays each month, counsellors will offer sessions on a first-come first-serve bases. The program is funded by the provincial Ministry of Health.

Immediate need

The service itself isn't new, but the point of access has been changing in Saskatchewan. Family Service Saskatoon offers walk-in services which have been extended to drugstores like Mayfair Drugs and community organizations like OUTSaskatoon.

Carlisle King library and the Cosmo Civic Centre have walk-in counselling every first and third Friday of each month, from 1 to 5 p.m. CST.

Walk-in services have been offered for 25 years in Canada.

Sometimes people in need of help end up at the emergency room or the doctor's office, accessing health care and putting more pressure on the public service, according to Nadia Stadnyk, program manager for Family Service Saskatoon.

Accessing help for their anxiety and learning coping tools early can keep people from going to hospital.

Men seeking counselling

Nadia Stadnyk, program manager for Saskatoon Family Services, says funding from the Ministry of Health has made several walk-in counseling programs in the city possible (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

The demographics of those who access the free service are diverse.

"It can be the professional who has learned about death or their marriage is having apart, or they're having some parent-teen issues," Stadnyk said.

People who don't have the means to pay for traditional counselling also use the services. Stadnyk said she has also noticed a difference in the gender of people coming in.

"A lot of males are accessing the service because it's immediate and it's right now," she said.

"Because the moment passes for people if they can't get the need addressed immediately."

Men tend to bury their feelings and end up feeling hopeless, she said. This can lead to developing anxiety disorders and other mental health issues.

Counsellors keep it simple. They ask questions about the individual's life, level of well-being, and relationships.

Family Service Saskatoon has been lobbying for the service for years. Stadnyk is thankful for the funding from the Ministry of Health so people don't have to wait up to five weeks for crucial help.

with files from Saskatoon Morning


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