Announcement of New My Wellness Passport Sites in Ontario: An initiative of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO)
The Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) Provincial Office is excited to welcome 10 new sites in Ontario who will implement YWHO’s data collection platform and tools and apply measurement-based care within mental health and wellness services for youth aged 12 to 25 years. The 10 new sites are known as My Wellness Passport sites. The name, My Wellness Passport (MWP), was selected by YWHO’s Provincial Youth Advisory Committee (PYAC), for the youth facing technology platform by which youth share information about themselves.
The 10 new sites were selected following a call for proposals that was shared across various networks in Ontario in June 2021. The selection process involved careful review of proposals as well as interviews and team deliberations. The review team was comprised of staff and leadership from the YWHO Provincial Office as well as members of the YWHO provincial youth and family advisory committees.
The YWHO MWP expansion is supported by: the Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation Partnership, Balsam Foundation and Medavie Health Foundation. We are very grateful to our generous donors for their support in helping YWHO expand with 10 new MWP sites and further our reach to provide youth aged 12 to 25 in the community with enhanced measurement-based mental health and wellness services. YWHO is committed to improving mental health and substance use services for youth and young adults in Ontario.
The successful integrated youth service network applicants will receive the required data platform licenses, iPads/tablets, $25,000 in funding for hub staffing costs, and implementation support to roll out YWHO’s MWP over the course of one year. The lead organizations for the successful applicant networks are:
- Canadian Mental Health Association (Lambton-Kent)
- John Howard Society (Belleville)
- Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington YWHO Working Group (Kingston)
- Langs Community Health Centre (Cambridge)
- The Hub Sarnia (Lambton County)
- The Neighborhood Organization (Toronto)
- The West Toronto Youth Hub at Yorktown Family Services (Toronto/ Yorktown)
- Wellkin Child & Youth Mental Wellness (Oxford-County)
- Woodview Mental Health & Autism Services (Brant)
- York Hills (York Region)
We are incredibly excited to have these networks on board! We appreciate all of the networks who applied for this opportunity, and the work that they are doing to support youth in our province.
Youth Wellness Quest
Youth Wellness Quest
If you’re having mental health or substance use challenges, getting help is often the first step toward getting and staying well. It can be hard to know where to start. Sometimes all you know is that you need help.
You might want to get help if you’re:
- worrying more than usual
- finding it hard to enjoy your life
- having thoughts and feelings that are hard to cope with and affect your day-to-day life
- using substances more than usual
- interested in finding more support
Who is this resource for?
The Youth Wellness Quest Guide and Checklist explores the kinds of mental health and substance use services that may be available in your community. You can use both to figure out what kind of help might be best for you.
The Wellness Quest resource is made up of a guide and a checklist.
The guide provides an explanation of all the services and sections in the checklist. The guide has detailed information about different topics that may be important to you in your mental health journey. Access the full version of the guide below or you can also access a shorter version of the Youth Wellness Quest for a quick summary of all the important information.
CAMH, YWHO, ACCESS Open Minds and Foundry launch first-of-its kind initiative to help young people with mental health challenges find employment
CAMH, YWHO, ACCESS Open Minds and Foundry launch first-of-its kind initiative to help young people with mental health challenges find employment
Funded by the Future Skills Centre, project will provide support for more than 700 youth in 12 locations
May 5, 2021
Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario
Canadian youth are in crisis. They are experiencing an increase in mental health challenges while also disproportionately experiencing higher rates of unemployment and disruptions in education due to the ongoing pandemic. In order to help support vulnerable young people through this challenging time, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health, ACCESS Open Minds, Foundry and Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario are proud to launch a new initiative that incorporates personalized employment services into integrated support teams across Canada.
The project, called What works for work? Employment integration in youth service hubs across Canada, is now available in two integrated youth service hubs in Toronto and Haliburton, and by late 2021, it will be offered out of 12 hubs across the country to more than 700 youth aged 12 to 25. The hubs, including integrated youth services developed as part of ACCESS Open Minds, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario and Foundry, already focus on youth mental health, substance use, physical health, and social support needs. This project strengthens these services by implementing and evaluating the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model, which provides youth with personalized and optimized opportunities for employment, education and training.
IPS is an evidence-informed model of supported employment for people with mental health challenges and has been adapted to include education supports for youth. IPS is unique because it adopts a “place-then-train” approach instead of focusing on pre-employment training like traditional supported employment programs. In this model, the employment specialist is integrated into the mental health services team and works to help youth find, secure and keep meaningful employment. Low- or no-service barriers, competitive employment, meaningful job search and individualized support are a few of the key principles that make IPS successful among youth.
“Currently, vulnerable youth with mental health challenges generally receive mental health care through one agency and then have to go elsewhere for employment and educational support. It can be daunting and frustrating to have to navigate disparate agencies,” said Dr. Joanna Henderson, Director, Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health, and Project Lead for What Works for Work? “With evidence-informed services integrated into our youth service hubs, young people will now have the opportunity to access employment and education supports in a youth-friendly, mental health and social service environment in a one-stop-shop model for integrated support.”
A youth advisory team has been included in all aspects of designing and implementing What works for work? “This project has been really invested in youth involvement from the very start,” said Em Hayes, Lead Youth Advisor. “This is crucial because when services are informed by the people they’re designed for, they’re far more effective.”
On May 5, 2021, the Future Skills Centre (FSC) announced an investment of $3.8 million to expand this program to more participants and additional locations. This follows an initial investment of $2.32 million by FSC in June 2020, to make this initiative possible.
“Assisting vulnerable youth to find pathways into the job market is an example of the programs supported by the Future Skills Centre that invest in building an inclusive workforce that includes future generations and leaves no-one behind,” said Pedro Barata, Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre. “This program can serve as a model that works, moving us closer to breaking long-term cycles of dependence on social assistance. Adding employment and education support to hubs that focus on mental health will help unlock the potential of young people so they can become independent, economically strong members of society.”
“Investing consistently in young people and the integration of services is critical to ensure the well-being of all of our communities in the future. This program takes the pressure off young people to navigate a complex system filled with short-term programs. It allows diverse young people to receive services that are integrated, youth-centred, and meaningful,” said Dr. Skey Barbic, Director of Research, Foundry.
The team is also excited to announce the development of an online IPS training system. This unique program will ensure that youth across the country have access to skilled employment specialists who are trained in IPS now and in the future. Canadian youth will be engaged in the development process to ensure that IPS training is responsive to and reflective of their needs.
“Finding and retaining employment or resuming and continuing education are essential aspects of recovery. They give young people a sense of purpose, agency and citizenship. What Works for Work? will help youth achieve these outcomes in socioeconomically, geographically, linguistically and culturally diverse settings across Canada. It could not have come at a time of any greater need than in the throes and aftermath of a pandemic,” added Srividya Iyer, the Scientific-Clinical Director of ACCESS Open Minds.
CAMH is Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.
Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Graham Boeckh Foundation, ACCESS Open Minds is a youth mental health services research network of 16 communities from seven provinces and one territory across Canada. ACCESS Open Minds is hosted at the Douglas Research Centre (affiliated with McGill University) in Montreal, Canada.
Foundry is removing barriers and increasing access to health and wellness services for young people ages 12–24 and their caregivers across British Columbia. At Foundry, young people can easily access our integrated services by walking into a local Foundry centre, exploring our online tools and resources at foundrybc.ca, or connecting virtually through our provincial virtual services.
The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. We believe Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, we are collaborating to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead. The Future Skills Centre was founded by a consortium whose members are Ryerson University, Blueprint, and The Conference Board of Canada, and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.
CAMH Media Relations
Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario expands virtual youth mental health services with support from RBC Future Launch
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.
Since 2017, the YWHO model has shown promise in reducing demand for in-hospital care, and has given youth access to services before emergency care is needed–preventing nearly 600 emergency visits over two years. Supporting the development of this new virtual platform ensures that new youth-focused virtual services reflect the principles and values essential to youth mental illness and addictions system transformation, and are interwoven seamlessly with in-person services.
The YWHO virtual expansion provides an important opportunity for RBC and CAMH to continue collaborating in support of young people across Ontario.
“Our commitment to youth mental well-being is focused on prevention and early intervention programs that help provide young people timely access to knowledge, supports and care, when and where they need it,” said Mark Beckles, Vice President, Social Impact & Innovation, RBC. “We are incredibly proud of our three-decade partnership with CAMH, which has empowered so many young Canadians to have the best chance of succeeding in life by offering the right supports at the right time.”
RBC’s dedication to CAMH and leadership as a corporate advocate for mental health has changed thousands of lives. This most recent gift is part of the RBC Future Launch program, a larger initiative aimed at empowering Canadian youth. To date, RBC has donated more than $8 million to CAMH, including contributions to two state-of-the-art buildings that opened in 2020.
About RBC Future Launch
RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500 million commitment to empower Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. With a focus on networking, skills development, practical work experience and mental wellbeing supports and services, the initiative aims to help break down the barriers facing young people. In 2020, RBC committed to providing $50 million in focused funding through RBC Future Launch to create meaningful and transformative pathways to prosperity for up to 25,000 BIPOC youth by 2025, with investments in areas such as skills development and mentoring.
Resilience 101: How Going Virtual Helps You Access Services and Support
The prolonged disruption to routines, the cancellation of milestone events and the challenge of accessing social services have contributed to the unique struggles facing Ontario youth during the pandemic. Virtual services are helping young people build resilience and access one-on-one support.
According to an April 2020 CAMH survey completed by over 600 young people — and subsequent phases of data collection — many young people are experiencing a deterioration in their mental health. Thirty nine per cent reported significant problems with mood and anxiety, and for those who had previously sought mental health support, the figure jumped to 68 per cent.
It’s a situation that’s no secret, says Kris Depencier, Regional President, Greater Toronto at RBC, which has been working with mental health organizations across Canada.
“We know youth have been disproportionally affected in the past year,” says Depencier. “Their ability to feel in control and build their own future has been heavily disrupted – with school closures, high unemployment, and a general lack of opportunity. It’s no surprise to see an increased demand for mental health services and their ability to bounce back tested.”
Many Ontarians may already know of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which has a long track record of providing mental health support. But what they may not be as aware of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO), an innovative CAMH project that aims to bring the right services to youth (and their families), at the right time and at the right place, through low-barrier access to services and skill-building tools that can help them build resilience and overcome the issues they are facing.
As part of a nine-part series, RBC had the chance to hear from Dr. Joanna Henderson, project lead for YWHO, and get her perspective on the challenges facing youth today, the importance of developing resilience as a means of overcoming challenges and the way in which virtual services can offer support.
Why is it important to help youth develop resilience?
“Everyone needs skills and supportive people in their lives to help them anticipate and overcome the issues they may encounter,” says Dr. Henderson, adding that people who are resilient can effectively cope with, or adapt to, challenging situations.
“Dealing with challenges can make us grow and can make us stronger,” says Dr. Henderson. In other words, rather than merely bouncing back, the resilience people develop through the difficulties they face today can better prepare them to face future challenges.
“Promoting mental health encourages the development of resilience,” explains Dr. Henderson. “The reverse is also true: Promoting resilience leads to better mental health.”
How is engaging digitally helping youth navigate through the pandemic?
Digital solutions can create bridges, fill gaps and improve health equity. For instance, they can help underserved groups, such as Black, Indigenous, People of Colour and LGBTQ+, and improve access for people who live in remote or rural communities. They can also make information accessible and make it easier to connect with early intervention support. And during the pandemic, they are an essential outlet for support.
The YWHO Virtual Hubs provide an opportunity to create new approaches to mental health service delivery that take advantage of the strengths of technology. From April to June 2020, Dr. Henderson and her team saw nearly 3,000 youth access virtual services “Our hope is that people will be able to access the support they need wherever they are, and whenever they need it, because technology shouldn’t be a barrier for somebody who wants help,” says Dr. Henderson.
In the development of virtual services, she encourages authentic partnership with a diverse range of people to help ensure new solutions meet the needs of all populations — including those who previously had little access to treatment options.
How can organizations, corporations, and technology leaders play a role in youth mental wellness?
“We all have a role to play,” says Dr. Henderson. Some organizations, such as CAMH, have been leaders in the mental health space for decades, particularly through their commitment to evidence-based and purpose-driven services for people. When it comes to ensuring equitable digital access, system leaders have been stepping up to collaborate to create a system of care with a clear front door. Organizations play a huge part in advancing programming and funding to support youth wellness — even beyond the pandemic.
“Youth need our collective help as they prepare for their future, it’s an all-hands-on-deck effort,” says Depencier, “I’m immensely proud that RBC has been working with organizations like CAMH which has made great strides in guiding families and youth to quality services. YWHO’s evolution to digital is an important next step in ensuring even more youth get the support they need when they need it.”
Dr. Henderson says that there are many different paths through the pandemic, with some young people experiencing significantly more challenges than others. “There are many factors that contribute to mental health and we need to keep this in mind as we help young people cope: There is no ‘one story’ for young people.” Support environments she says — whether online or offline — need to be responsive, inclusive and adaptable.
“Overcoming adversity and building resilience doesn’t happen overnight, but this journey gets much easier when we find good support systems. We want to see Canada’s young people flourish and become the best version of themselves,” says Depencier. “After all, we know that when youth thrive, so does the rest of our country, today and in the future.”
Journeying along the river: Reaching out for support
As you go through your wellness journey, you will continue to add pieces to your bundle along the way. Even if it’s a struggle to find the support you need, there is help out there. It’s always worth asking for that support. Learn more by downloading the tip sheet.
Building your medicine bundle: Understanding your mental health journey
Some communities use the Medicine Wheel to show how different areas of our well-being are connected and are equally important. If one area needs more attention from us, it can cause imbalance and can affect other parts of our health. Download the tip sheet to learn more.
YWHO Featured in News
Teens need coping skills to deal with anger during pandemic: doctor
Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a year of missed social connections that would typically help them mature and regulate their emotions. Read the rest of the article here.
Government of Canada announces $16.5 million to support harm reduction and people who use substances in British Columbia
Throughout Canada, communities and families continue to grapple with the ongoing overdose crisis and other harms associated with problematic substance use. Ken Hardie, M.P., on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced nearly $16.5 million in funding for 11 projects to help support communities in British Columbia in their efforts to address and prevent substance use-related harms. Read the rest of the press release here.
RBC addresses accessibility of youth mental health resources with digitally-focused partnerships
Because of support from partners like RBC, YWHO can continue to meet the unique needs of young people experiencing various mental health concerns, including substance use. This means expanding YWHO’s virtual reach so that it’s accessible to youth everywhere, when they need it. Read the rest of the press release here.
YWHO and Bell Let’s Talk Day Newsletter
Thursday, January 28 is Bell Let’s Talk Day and Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario will be joining the mental health initiative to take action and drive progress within our communities.
How is COVID-19 Affecting Youth Mental Health, Substance Use and Wellness?
Youth and COVID-19 Webinar