A new “one-stop shop” youth-focused mental health and addiction walk-in clinic is set to open its doors at Danforth and Woodbine this July.
The clinic is one of three similar clinics opening across the city, with the expectation that a walk-in model tailored to young people’s needs will remove barriers that might stop them from seeking treatment and improve access across the mental health system.
Youth mental health and addiction disorder rates are as high as 20 per cent, but only one in six access appropriate treatment, according to program literature.
The program, developed by a wide range of partners including CAMH, SickKids Centre for Brain and Mental Health, Michael Garron Hospital, and others under the banner YouthCan Impact Toronto, provides flexibility of services and treatment options on a walk-in basis – brief, solution-focused therapy, peer support, access to Internet-based tools, onsite access to psychiatric services.
The young people will be connected to whichever service is most appropriate for what they are going through.
“These clinics will be a one-stop shop, providing immediate access to evidence-based mental health care in the community,” said Dr. Peter Szatmari, Chief of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at CAMH, SickKids, and the University of Toronto.
The new services will be studied in comparison to the traditional treatment young people receive in hospital-based, outpatient mental health clinics in Toronto, with project leaders anticipating they will see “better outcomes for youth, including improved functioning, decreased symptoms and better satisfaction with the services,” said Dr. Joanna Henderson, clinician scientist and director of the McCain Centre at CAMH, noting that wait times should also decrease.
The project was developed with input from young people, who considered what services would be offered and how success will be evaluated.
“The thing many people in this field haven’t done is ask young people, ‘what are your goals, what are your needs?’ Without understanding youth experience of mental illness, it’s hard to organize services in an informed way,” says Henderson.
“Having youth at the table is crucial to help us ask the right questions and look at outcomes that are meaningful to them.”
The group hopes that eventually this service model will be used as a blueprint for other communities across Canada.