Mental health has been a huge topic of discussion over the last few years in High River.

Foothills Community Counselling aims to help people in and around the community access services.

Shelly Koot says they're able to provide a roadmap to get help.

"Foothills Community Counselling Service started in 2017, really just trying to look at supporting residents in our area with having somebody just to talk to when times get tough," she explains. "We've got great medical support services in our area through addictions and mental health through private counsellors in our area but people were looking for some additional services as well and so we wanted to fill that gap a bit."

She says they try to help people with whatever situations they're in early, before they can get out of hand, just making sure they have somewhere to go and someone to talk to.

"Maybe it's with a relationship, maybe it's with children, maybe it's financial, we see a lot come in who are just feeling blue or experiencing anxiety that they haven't experienced before, and we're really encouraging people just to come in and talk about that and explore some options for maybe some solutions and some options that may be available to them."

Koot says there has been an increase in the number of people who have stepped forward looking for help, partly because after the flood in 2013 they reached out when help was made available and now the stigma around mental health has diminished to a degree.

"The pandemic was certainly stressful on a lot of people for a variety of reasons whether that was for health concerns, concerns for relationships that were impacted, and of course looking at the financial impacts of that as well," Koot says. "It's okay to talk about when we're not feeling well and so if we can role model that for our loved ones and say that 'hey, I reached out for help, and it was beneficial to me or to my family,' and encourage others to do that and so that's also why I think we're seeing an increase in numbers."

She says the model has been very successful and they're willing to share it with other communities that are interested.

If you or someone you know needs help you can call 403-603-3549 or visit them at the former Culture Centre, next to the Charles Clark Medical Centre on 9th Avenue or email