Skip to content

Assiniboia 'lunch and learn' sheds light on rapid access counselling

Services aim to provide quick access to brief mental health support for individuals, couples and families.

ASSINIBOIA — When Assiniboia resident Afton Richards, a member of the Assiniboia and District Chamber of Commerce, became aware of rapid access counsellor being offered in Assiniboia area, she reached out to Moose Jaw Family Services, who provide such a service, for an opportunity present information to the business community to learn more about their program.

The March seminar offered in a lunch and learn format was facilitated by Cecily Carrillo who serves as a RAC with Moose Jaw Family Services, and has been in the position since Jan. of 2023. Carrillo is a Masters of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT) and a Certified Canadian Counsellor.

Richards tells the Assiniboia Times and, “I found out about this program through my co-worker/the mayor of Assiniboia. They did a presentation for the town and she told us it would be a great lunch and learn. “

Richards said she was motivated to have these speakers in the community after herself, along with countless others in town had been affected in some way by suicide.

“There used to be counsellors in schools and because of underfunding, they don’t have that anymore. I feel this extremely harmful. Ever since losing my friend to suicide and struggling mentally myself I have had a passion for an increase in mental health initiatives in our community. This program, I believe, will be utilized a lot in our community especially by the male and agriculture population. With this program being completely free and the counsellors being easily accessed through phone call and in person this will allow so many different people in our community to get the help they need,” adds Richards.

Organizers were pleased with the reception from this educational and informational session. They were also pleased to see teachers there who asked many questions and were very interested in bringing it back in schools, as well as making everyone knowledgeable about the program. Specifically, the family counselling opportunity where a RAC comes right into the family’s home.

Tara Jones, Executive Director Moose Jaw Family Services, said, “The main message was to connect the community with rapid access counselling in the Assiniboia and greater Moose Jaw area, which is a free service for the public provided by MJFS.”

Contact and website information was provided to the Town of Assiniboia residents, as well as though who attended the luncheon seminar, using their website, or through their website at

Jones adds, “At this time we do not have any other presentations arranged, but MJFS is always looking for opportunities to engage with the communities that we serve and if the opportunity arises, we will certainly be happy to present. “

The presentation pointed out that RAC is a free service that offers brief and solution-focused counselling. Adult RAC is current offered weekly in Gravelbourg, Assiniboia, MJFS office and Moose Jaw Public Library.

Child and youth rapid access counselling is specifically designed for children aged 7-16, and their caregivers. These services are currently offered in Assiniboia and Moose Jaw, and are in the process of expanding to other communities.

“Our services aim to provide quick access to brief mental health support for individuals, couples, and families dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, addictions, suicidal ideation, stress, relationship conflict, separation, divorce, domestic violence, and parenting challenges.”

Jones also notes that their program is especially advantageous for individuals without access to workplace benefits, those with fixed or low incomes, and those facing long waits for publicly funded services. Services are provided by professional counsellors who hold education in the counselling and mental health field and who are licensed by a professional regulatory body.

Richards expands saying, “What is great about the RAC program is it’s not subjected to just one type of therapy. There are different councillors for different types of needs. There is a councillor specifically for adults and relationship counselling, another for youth counselling and another for family counselling that will actually attend a family’s home and give parenting tips, support for a child struggling in the home or whatever the family specifically needs.’

Organizers of the lunch and learn activity remind residents this entire program is free and confidential. They will also provide you with quick access counselling until a client is able to get into counselling through the health region. The RAC program will also provide as many or as few meetings depending on an individual needs. 

Twenty-two people attended Assiniboia’s educational event and the facilitator notes that participants had many good questions and lots of engagement throughout the presentation. Many were not aware of the RAC and were amazed to learn about this valuable resource.

The Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce says they are committed to lunch and learn events every month, with the exception of summer months. They are trying to bring awareness to different programs that are done in the community or are available in the community. The next event will be hosted by the Town of Assiniboia.