Kells Counselling is a founding member of a local, grassroots group representing over 60 private psychologists in Alberta. Kells Counselling, Insight Psychological, Dreamcatcher Nature Assisted Therapy, and Cornerstone Counselling work together as the Expert Psychologists Interagency Clinical Network, or EPIC. Together they strive to promote the benefits of psychology in the Edmonton area and help all Albertans access psychological care.
EPIC lobbied the government in late 2019 with a petition advocating for accessible, provincially funded psychological services for all Albertans. The petition stressed the importance of making expert mental health resources accessible to all Albertans and gathered support through an online petition. In early 2020, EPIC had been invited to initial meetings with the UCP government, however progress was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since over 19,000 signatures have been collected along with thousands of comments supporting the need for funded and accessible mental health care, EPIC feels it is time to re-launch their call to action.
In January 2021, EPIC representatives met with Heather Sweet, MLA for Edmonton-Manning to discuss her push for provincially funded mental health care. Sweet has committed to table the EPIC network’s Alberta Health Services Funding for Psychological Services Petition to the Alberta Legislative Assembly, when the sitting in resumes in February 2021.
Provincially Funded Psychology Sessions
EPIC is asking the Government of Alberta to allow psychologists to bill Alberta Health directly for psychological interventions. Their premise is that psychological supports should function like good medical care. Albertans have funded access to self-selected family physicians for their physical health needs. It is equally essential for Albertans to have funded access to self-selected psychologists as an ongoing resource for their mental health needs.
EPIC’s petition identifies psychologists as the professionals with a primary concentration on behavioural and mental health and notes that Alberta is fortunate to have over 4,000 psychologists offering a range of specialties and expertise to meet the wide diversity of needs. To adequately address the escalating mental health issues, Albertans need to have financially supported access to both the private and public systems.
In addition to diversifying access to psychologists, EPIC is also advocating for diversity in the modality of care. EPIC agencies have found over the last eleven months, that when clients are permitted to choose between online and in-person services, they choose and benefit more from in-person sessions than virtual sessions. These findings are not surprising since 1) the physical human connection that is present in an in-person care session cannot be imitated online and 2) the nature and extent of care needed by everyone can be very different. Therefore, it must be emphasized that provincially funded mental health supports should not be limited to online mental health clinicians.
How you can SPEAK Up for mental health
We are asking the government to provide all Albertans access to provincially funded sessions with a psychologist.
Show your support by signing our petition before it is tabled to the provincial government in March 2021.
Join over 19,000 others by signing the petition here.
To learn more about the initiative, review these articles from the media.
EPIC is a non-partisan consortium. Fortunately, the mental health of Albertans is also a non-partisan issue.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss our initiative with any and all political, community, and business leaders willing to advocate for accessible psychological services for all Albertans. Visit the EPIC website www.epicpsychology.net to learn more.