Wood's Homes Blog

Success of Wood’s Homes and Central Library pilot project leads to extension

March 30, 2021
By Janet Stewart, Wood’s Homes and Kristen Duke, Calgary Public Library
Success of Wood’s Homes and Central Library pilot project leads to extension

Eastside Community Mental Health Services and Central Library in downtown Calgary began a pilot project last fall that offers library patrons immediate, no-charge, walk-in mental health and addictions support.

We are pleased to announce that this partnership has been extended to December 2021. 

Wood’s Homes crisis counsellors Jamil Datoo and Simon Lai started meeting with patrons back in September, October, and December 2020. Staff at both Wood’s Homes and the Library look forward to seeing patrons at the Wellness Desk when it is safe to do so again. 

The library is proud to offer free services to all members of the community, regardless of background, abilities, and socio-economic status. The partnership between the two organizations has been seamless given the shared values of providing barrier-free services.

The project is called Wellness Desk.

The Wellness Desk is a place for conversation — it’s a resource. Wellness Desk staff use a roving approach – they stay connected with library staff throughout their shift, but do not approach patrons directly. Services are provided by self-referral — respecting patrons’ and clients’ choices.

Staff at the Wellness Desk ensure that anyone coming in for help is navigated to the best possible support available to meet patron needs in real-time.

And patrons are reporting a reduction in their stress, they are better equipped to cope and were pleased to be provided clear next steps.

Wood’s Homes has provided single session walk-in therapy in Calgary for 30+ years at the Eastside Family Centre, now part of the Eastside Community Mental Health Service. Decades of research has shown that families, couples, and individuals report an immediate reduction in their overall distress levels based on pre- and post-session reports. Clients over the last 10 years have reported that walk-in mental health support reduces their reliance on other more expensive immediate services such as hospitals, health clinics, and doctors’ offices.

As part of the partnership, Wood’s Homes staff has provided mental health education to library staff and even those who manage security.

One training participant shared: “I would like to thank all of you for the mental health training that took place yesterday. It couldn't have come at a better time. I felt very equipped to handle the situation that occurred. I have also made a commitment to follow up with the person that came to me, especially as these times get stranger and even more isolating.”

The limitations that we have experienced related to the pandemic have slowed the rollout of face-to-face support. However, all patrons have been provided information about the current virtual crisis counselling and therapy services offered at ECMHS. Click here for more information. Discussions are under way to extend the Wellness Desk concept into other library locations across the city.

“A patron requires support. At the Wellness Desk, there are very few barriers to it — short of walking through a door. We are there to support people who have historically avoided mental health supports for whatever reason." - Simon Lai