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By Brad D. Hunter, Q.C.
Director of Insurance, Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association (SLIA)
|Mental Health Week is an annual national event that takes place during the first week in May to encourage discussion about mental health. During this week, the Law Society of Saskatchewan will be providing mental health information to assist our members. This article first appeared in our spring edition of the Benchers’ Digest with the theme Mental Health: Struggles and Successes.
As mentioned earlier in this issue, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) is a free, confidential assistance program for Saskatchewan lawyers, judges, law students and their immediate families. SLIA oversees the contract with third party provider, Homewood Human Solutions, who manage LCL’s program and remains LCL’s referrals coordinator and administrator for professional counseling services. Client contacts are made directly to Homewood Human Solutions 24 hours per day, 7 days per week for immediate confidential assistance. Clients are generally provided up to five (5) free consultations, unless otherwise approved.
When a call is placed for assistance, callers are immediately directed to one of three intake centres in Vancouver, Guelph and Montreal. The caller is routed to the first available person to address the caller’s initial inquiry. The clinicians who deal with the initial inquiry are fully qualified and they triage the inquiry to determine whether it is a crisis situation requiring immediate assistance or whether it is a non-emergent inquiry. The clinician will take down the identification information for the caller to ensure that Homewood Health knows who the caller is, where they reside and where they work. However, that information is strictly confidential.
The clinician will then discuss with the caller what problem the caller is presenting with and what assistance they might require. The caller is also asked whether they have a preferred modality of counseling, being either a phone call from a designated clinician or a face-to-face meeting with a clinician. The caller is also asked for dates that he or she would be available for the initial meeting with the clinician. Depending on the issue that the caller is presenting and the availability of clinicians in the area in which the caller resides, a face-to-face meeting is typically set up within 3 business days. If it is a crisis situation, the intake clinician will refer the caller immediately to a treating clinician by way of telephone consult.
All of the clinicians employed by Homewood Health and their referral clinicians must have a masters degree and be licensed by the appropriate regulatory body. They must also have 5 years of post-education clinical experience. Callers are allowed to indicate a preference for a particular clinician in their area and if that clinician is part of the Homewood Health network and qualified to provide counselling in the area required then the caller will be linked up with that clinician.
The only individuals that have access to the confidential information provided by Homewood Health and its clinicians are the clinician and the Regional Clinical Manager. All of the information is contained on Homewood’s clinical portal and no paper copies are in existence. The confidentiality of the callers identification and problem is paramount to Homewood Health. Neither the Law Society of Saskatchewan nor Saskatchewan Lawyers’ Insurance Association have access to Homewood’s files.