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While walking with her young daughter recently, our Director of Counselling Services Ashey Lim says that about ten minutes into the walk her daughter became sad and had really low energy. She said, “Mommy, my feet are hurting. My toes are sore.”

After checking her daughter’s feet, she realized the shoes had gotten two sizes too small! This was an aha moment for her that throughout these many months of COVID-19, our day-to-day needs can often get trumped by the crisis-mode we’ve been operating in.

“When COVID-19 hit, it struck me that this was a perfect metaphor for what we do,” Ashley says. “We’re all go-go-go in dealing with this crisis, and sometimes we miss those things that we should be focusing on, like these shoes. For those facing a crisis, the unseen needs get lost in the chaos, forgotten and before you know it you are either playing catch up or they have grown beyond your control.”

Basic needs don’t go away no matter what life throws at us. And this includes the need for mental health support, which has increased significantly both for our clients, and for individuals across our community, through these past challenging months throughout COVID.

Everyone knows mental health is important, knows it’s there, but it does not take primacy in our healthcare system. We receive so many requests for help at YWCA Edmonton that sometimes it’s difficult to open our inboxes, knowing that we are already operating at capacity, but when it comes to affordable mental healthcare, there are not many options for people to turn to. Our dream is that everyone in need will have access to affordable, mental healthcare. Mental health is just as important as physical health and it needs to be made available for everyone.

Fortunately, we have been able to connect with our clients through virtual meetings during this pandemic. Technology has opened doors for us, but at the same time not all of our clients have access to computers or other smart devices. So we’ve been thinking a lot about how we can provide a door to those without access.

People are really struggling with making sure they have the resources they need and some barriers we have noticed are access to technology and safety. So this is where we are pushing for a solution.

Our wish for the clients we serve and those we don’t yet serve but who are experiencing domestic violence, human trafficking and other immediate physical and mental health needs, is that YWCA Edmonton continues to grow as a full-circle agencyproviding support, services and care for the evolving needs of our community; to be that one door to access what they’re looking for, when they need it most.

Our client’s lives are not a pair of shoes that can slip past unnoticed and become too small. They are dealing with actual crises that absolutely cannot go unnoticed, especially during a global pandemic. We want to deal in hope, not hopelessness.

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