Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) will digitally expand its existing network of 10 hubs to help thousands of young people access mental health resources wherever they are, and whenever they need them. The expansion is taking place thanks to a $1 million gift from RBC Foundation.
The hubs provide young people ages 12 to 25 with one-stop access to mental health assessments, treatment for addictions and substance use, therapy and counselling, peer and family support and referrals to psychiatrists, as well as education, employment and housing services.
Of the nearly 3,000 youth who accessed virtual YWHO services from April to June 2020, 98 per cent said they would recommend the service to a friend. For Alex, a Youth Advisory Council Member for YWHO, the Niagara hub has been life-changing.
“The Youth Wellness Hub in Niagara gave me access to mental health services that are extremely youth friendly and helped my recovery in a huge way,” said Alex. “It has changed my life in an extremely positive way and I can’t express how truly thankful I am that it is here for youth like me.”
The virtual expansion of YWHO’s services is timely amidst increasing mental health demands and barriers to in-person care as Ontario navigates the third wave of the pandemic.
“We’re over a year into the pandemic and we’re seeing that levels of anxiety, depression and loneliness are as high as they were in May 2020,” added Dr. Joanna Henderson, Director of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health and Executive Director of YWHO. “RBC’s gift enables YWHO to enhance its virtual support for youth anywhere and whenever they need it. I feel privileged to work on this critically important initiative with such a dedicated team of young people at YWHO, and our longtime corporate partners at RBC.”
Specifically, the gift will support the development of YWHO’s virtual platform, which will be an innovative one-stop-shop co-designed by CAMH alongside young people, family members, service providers, e-health scholars and government. The platform will provide a range of fully integrated, developmentally appropriate youth services, while amplifying and delivering supports and services for young people living in remote or rural areas.
“We now have a place where we feel welcome and not judged. If we can get the help we need, then we will have better connections with family and friends, do better in school, get jobs, and be healthier in every way. That is good for us as youth, and for the entire community,” said one visitor at the YWHO site in Eastern Champlain.