Life Linc staff members Ryan Beehre, Rebekah Vincent, Gianluca Gatto, Kenn Butler and Mairi Lewis-Smith are concerned that a lack in funding will cause cuts to its service. Photo: Erin Bradnock.

Counselling under pressure amid Covid

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A Nelson charitable counselling service says it needs more funding to continue operating to meet rising demands amid increased anxieties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Life Linc has seen a surge of 95 referrals over the past four months – a 35 per cent increase compared to 2019.

Life Linc manager Rebekah Vincent says the Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone from two-years-old to 100-year-olds.

“Everybody has been struggling in their own way and I don’t think we’ve seen the tip of it yet.”

The charity relies on the work of 14 volunteer counsellors, contributions from clients and community fundraising to deliver affordable counselling.

Rebekah predicts the strain on mental health services will only get worse in the coming months.

“We’ll be struggling to sustain ourselves because of a lack of funding since March.”

The counsellors at Life Linc says the pandemic has raised a lot of concerns for people in the region from job losses, relationship pressures, anxiety, isolation and schooling all contributing to the rush of referrals.

According to Life Linc, the average cost of private counselling services in the Nelson Tasman region typically ranges between $80 and $150 per session.

Life Linc services start from $20 and are adjusted to the individual or couple’s income but Rebekah says their door is open to anyone, even if they can’t cover the cost.

“We would never turn anyone away if they needed us. That’s a general rule we have,” she says.

Rebekah says Life Linc is a crucial service for Nelson and if funding runs out there will be a huge gap left for affordable face-to-face counselling.

Counsellor Ryan Beehre says working at Life Linc has been invaluable to his training.

“It’s been fantastic to have an opportunity to work with people in real life situations.”

He says the impact of Covid-19 has come up in around 90 per cent of his sessions with clients.

Rebekah says there are ongoing costs with running the service – from rent, electricity, IT services and counsellor transport costs.

Life Linc also provides ongoing training and clinical supervisors to ensure they are providing the best service possible, she says.

“We want to be able to keep our service of affordable, accessible and professional counselling open for anyone who needs it.”

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