Sanya SagarDoctoral candidate Sanya Sagar helped create a program that offers free therapy sessions to local residents. The program, launched last month, began by offering counselling to hospital workers.

Service offers free psychological counselling to Windsor-Essex residents

A program of UWindsor’s Psychological Services and Research Centre is offering free counselling to anyone suffering emotionally during the current pandemic.

The counselling, offered by graduate students under the supervision of registered psychologists on faculty, rolled out last month. It began by offering phone sessions to local hospital workers. This week, it expanded to all members of the public in Windsor and Essex County.

“People in the community are struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety during this time of social isolation, and we want to help,” said doctoral candidate Sanya Sagar, who designed the program with psychology professor Josée Jarry and other graduate students.

“If you find yourself feeling scared, irritable, sad — call us. We are so happy and privileged to be able to provide the community with this free service.”

The program will focus on concerns that can be addressed in single sessions of 90 minutes, but clients will be eligible for three additional 50-minute sessions. Those requiring further help will be referred to other services in the community.

The therapists will try to identify an immediate concern that can be improved now. It may not be the most severe concern, but one that can be addressed quickly.

The program will have a research component as well. Clients will be asked to participate in a survey before and after the intervention. Students will do the same. The data collected will become part of the research centre’s archive.

The project is funded through UWindsor’s Office of the Vice-President of Research and Innovation and the WE-Spark Health Institute, a research partnership involving the University of Windsor, Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, and St. Clair College. It is one of 21 local COVID-related projects WE-Spark is supporting through its COVID-19 Rapid Response grant program.

People can access the program through the UWindsor Therapy website.

—Sarah Sacheli