Stress calls “skyrocketing” at local Family Counselling and Support Services

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Stress calls are “skyrocketing” at Family Counselling and Support Services for Guelph-Wellington  in the wake of COVID-19.

“People are so anxious, concerned and afraid,” said Joanne Young Evans, executive director, in a phone interview.

“Sometimes they just need to hear an understanding, rational voice on the phone letting them know they are okay. And sometimes it takes more than that.”

The counselling service closed its doors March 18 and  has been talking to clients by phone only.

Young Evans said the walk-in clinic in Guelph is already 500 per cent over target this year. The Mount Forest and Fergus clinics have only been open for a year so there’s no data to tell if there’s been a sharp spike in calls in the county.

“The calls are different though. There are not as many as Guelph, but clients in rural areas tend to stay on (as clients) longer. In any case, all our locations are full,” she said.

Young Evans said they will look at video calls, which could be especially effective for children, who would be able to see the counsellor and know no one else is in the room.

The agency provides counselling for couples, families and those dealing with trauma, grief, stress, anxiety, depression, and those suffering physical, sexual and emotional abuse. It also supports people with developmental challenges and the people who care them.

Youth aged 12 and up can call for help on their own. Children under 12 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In January this year, the agency took over the TeleConnect and Distress Line services. It also provides employee assistance programs in the area.

The numbers to call to speak to a counsellor are 519-824-2431 or 1-800-307-7078, or email