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Ontario expanding youth mental health services

London and Sarnia are among the cities where the Ontario government plans to offer expanded mental health services for youth.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health announced that eight communities will receive a new Youth Wellness Hub. These centres, funded by the Addictions Recovery Fund, help young people aged 12 to 25 access mental health support, primary care, social services, and more.

London-Middlesex and Sarnia-Lambton are among the eight regions that will receive one of these facilities, adding to the 14 that have been set up provincewide since 2020. With the newest additions, there will be 22 Youth Wellness Hubs open throughout the province.

"The walk in, low-barrier services offered through Youth Wellness Hubs are critical in improving Ontario’s mental health and addiction services for youth and their families,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division. “These additional sites will ensure more young people across the province receive the help and support they need."

The downtown Sarnia location is scheduled to open early this year, after experiencing some construction delays related to the pandemic.

The Ontario government also announced that it is investing $4.75 million in its “One Stop Talk” program, which offers virtual “walk-in” counselling for children, youth, and their families.

One Stop Talk allows patients to talk to clinicians by phone, video call, text, and chat, without needing to book an appointment in advance.

“This program offers modern, convenient options for youth to connect to help in ways that they’re used to communicating,” said Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones.

One Stop Talk started as a pilot project in November 2022 involving six mental health organizations. When fully implemented, the service will be readily available to all young people across the province.

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