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End in sight for Greater Victoria men’s therapy centre without help from B.C.

Mental Health Minister says funds available when asked about centre’s repeated pleas
B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside steps away from the podium after speaking during a news conference. The Saanich-based Men’s Therapy Centre will have to shut down within months, leaving the 300 members it supports without any alternative if the province doesn’t step in. (THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO/Darryl Dyck)

An organization calling itself the region’s only trauma-informed therapy centre for those identifying as men signalled it will have to close following failed attempts to secure sustained provincial funding.

The Men’s Therapy Centre supports over 300 community members on the south Island and said it provides thousands of hours of trauma-informed therapy annually for survivors of physical, psychological and sexualized violence.

The non-profit notes its more than 60-client waiting list shows it’s already stretched as the centre aims to help men cope with intergenerational trauma and address the root causes of gender-based violence.

An emergency board meeting at the end of March saw the Saanich-based centre’s board pass a budget that significantly cut employee wages, but the Men’s Therapy Centre said it’s still just months away from closing without provincial help.

“With rising operating costs, and no access to ongoing program funding, our operations are no longer sustainable,” the centre’s executive director Nick Sandor said in a news release. “We are already turning vulnerable community members away without any suitable alternative for mental health support.”

Men and male-identified people face a mental health crisis with deadly impacts, the news release said, highlighting that eight men die by suicide in Canada every day and men account for 78 per cent of opioid deaths in B.C.

Men’s Therapy Centre programs include group, individual and youth trauma counselling, along with community outreach and victim support.

“We not only provide an essential service but offer our clients a pathway to recovery from intergenerational trauma and the cycle of addiction, crime, incarceration and re-offence,” said Bruce Monkhouse, the centre’s board chair.

“Incarceration in a B.C. provincial prison costs about $8,000 per person each month. Without effective trauma treatment, the research is very clear, individuals return to addictions that lead to antisocial and criminal behaviour.”

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Jennifer Whiteside called the centre a really important service while responding to the funding concerns on Monday. She said funds are available and it’s very possible the province will provide the needed financial help.

“It’s really important work they do, I’ve asked my staff to reach out to them so that we can find a way to work it out,” Whiteside said.

The centre flagged that it made repeated attempts for sustained funding. The province is trying to determine which ministry received the requests, Whiteside said.

“The important thing here is we know that (Men’s Therapy Centre) provides really important preventative mental health services and is a really important connection for men who may have been involved in the criminal justice system, we want to support that work.”

-With files from Wolfgang Depner

READ: Victoria, Saanich mayors say amalgamation study will reveal best service-providing model


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