Racialized and queer youth are welcomed to a safe space in Kelowna where they can access free counselling from 2S/LGBTQIA+ and IBPOC counsellors.
This Space Belongs to You has secured funding from the Kelowna General Hospital to offer 16 weeks of free counselling for youth in Kelowna and the entire Syilx Okanagan.
Meaghan Duckett (she/her), a social worker, is the founder of This Space Belongs to You. She created the website two years ago in an effort to create a safe environment where people of colour and the queer community can access the mental health resources they need.
Duckett is a queer woman of colour, and through lived experience realized that there is a gap in the mental health services available to people like her.
“I have grown tired of working in a system that is not always inclusive or accepting of all people, and have continued to notice gaps and barriers to services.”
She explained there is a lack of low barrier social services available across the country and particularly in the Sylix Okanagan for queer and racialized youth.
Queer and IBPOC youth experience significant rates of suicide, mental health disparities and often face discrimination when accessing services, said Duckett.
Often, counselling services are cost prohibitive, or do not offer trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, gender-affirming and intersectional care. Duckett said that the youth will see themselves represented in all counsellors working for this service.
The free counselling service is available in-person, over the phone or virtually, depending on the youth’s comfort level or situation.
She said that safety is her team’s top priority.
Youth can access the program online at thisspacebelongstoyou.com where they can self-register for the counselling service.
Healthcare providers can refer patients through the website.
Duckett hopes to secure additional funding to extend the 16-week project. In addition to continued services, she hopes to create a drop-in centre with a multidisciplinary team to support young people in Kelowna.