Mental health coaches fill the gap during pandemic – fr

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Mental health coaches fill the gap during pandemic – fr


From relationship issues to anxiety, life coaches in Ottawa say clients are increasingly turning to them for support to fill a gap in mental health services that is only growing during the pandemic .
Carole Blackburn, a certified life coach for five years, said more clients are reaching out to her for help with depression or lack of fulfillment. She said some had not been able to find a mental health professional.

“I think there is a greater awareness of the impact a coach can have on someone’s life in a very positive and positive way,” she said.

She noted that some people are still unsure of the difference between a psychologist and a life coach.

“It’s our responsibility as coaches to define that and be upfront with clients, not just hire someone because we want to fill our roster,” said Blackburn.

Resources are lacking, says expert

Typically, a life coach like Blackburn will support clients who are at a dead end in their life and need motivation or guidance. Blackburn works with clients to set goals and make a plan to achieve them, and tries to make them comfortable with their choices.

Blackburn said she regularly advises potential clients to seek qualified mental health practitioners instead.

But for many, the lack of funding and the shortage of mental health professionals have limited options as demand increases due to the pandemic.

Well Being Together Canada was launched by the federal government last spring to help people access mental health supports, and has since been used by more than 1.2 million Canadians.

“We have reached a historic moment when the demand is so high but the services are not there, and now we cannot, in the space of a week or even a month, all of a sudden bring up these services and make them accessible to the population. Said Nafissa Ismail, Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa.

Nafissa Ismail, associate professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, says mental health resources are lacking in Canada. (Studio Dwayne Brown)

Ismail said coaches like Blackburn can provide tremendous value, but mental health issues need to be dealt with by a dedicated professional first.

« [Life coaches] can really help take an individual to the next level… but they can only do that if the person is already healthy, ”Ismail said.

Recruitment tripled

The Coaching Academy of Canada says it welcomes 30 future life coaching students per month, triple the number of recruits before the pandemic.

Allie Sevani, 32, a relatively new coach with a small client list, said there was a distinct difference between her role and that of a mental health professional.

« [Psychologists] focus more on things like deep rooted issues, trauma, some childhood stuff, while life coaching…. it’s more about the day-to-day work on your daily habits and building your mindset, ”she said.

Allie Sevani said she began to look into life coaching when she was unable to find a therapist after immigrating to Ottawa. (Allie Sevani)

She said if a client brings up something that is beyond the scope of her expertise, she recommends contacting a licensed mental health professional.

Still, she believes she can help people who need emotional support, especially if they can’t find it elsewhere.

“In the pandemic, people have certainly looked for other ways to seek help, and most of the time with mental health it’s about a deeper connection,” she said. . “People just want to be understood. “

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