Free children and youth mental health walk-in program launches 2 new facilities in Toronto

One in five children will experience a mental health challenge and 'What's up' walk in® provides services with no fee, referral or health card required

TORONTO, Oct. 18, 2016 /CNW/ - 'What's up' walk in® has officially opened two new locations this week, expanding service further across Toronto. Launched in 2011, the program offers accessible mental health counselling services for children and youth looking for help with a range of issues, including depression, anxiety, family conflict, bullying and sexual identity.

"Nearly one in five Canadian children will be touched by a mental health disorder serious enough to cause social, emotional or academic problems," said David O'Brien, Lead Agency Network Manager for 'What's up' walk in®. "What makes our program unique is that we make getting help simple by providing a one-stop-shop for support, five days a week. There's no charge, no referral and no health card required. Plus, we offer services in a variety of languages to support our diverse communities."

The walk-in expansion was made possible by $724,400 in funding as part of a $6 million investment in local mental health services from the Ontario Government. The funding, which is part of the province's Moving on Mental Health action plan dedicated to improving access in the community to mental health services for children and youth, also provided the ability to hire more dedicated staff, build additional commonality across clinics and a dedicated website, www.whatsupwalkin.ca, launching soon. The Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, attended the launch event alongside agency partners and community users.

"The services provided by 'What's up' walk in® provide a safe and accessible space for our youth to turn for help," said Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau. "Accessible mental health care in Ontario helps ensure all children and youth have the best possible start in life and the opportunities to thrive." 

By simplifying the delivery of services for young people who often find the health care system challenging to navigate, the program is helping to decrease pressure on other provincial health care units. The service has reduced lengthy waitlists for children and youth mental health services in Toronto, by providing equitable access to mental health counselling, with wait times often less than 20 minutes.

"My grandson, who is 21, has battled anxiety, depression and insomnia since his early teens," said Janice, an East York resident familiar with the service. "He has struggled to find help because the format of many programs are too rigid for his lifestyle and the support he requires. That's why 'What's up' walk in® is so unique.  It allows people to seek treatment on their own terms – at the time that works for them, about the topics they want to discuss, in an open and supportive environment. I am so grateful for the helping hand they have provided me, while I am providing a helping hand to him."

About 'What's up' walk in®
'What's up' walk in® is a community-based, city-wide, free, five-day-a-week mental health walk-in service for children, youth and their families. Created and led by East Metro Youth Services (EMYS) since 2011, the service is available across the City of Toronto and aims to increase equitable access to evidence-informed, strengths-based, brief solution focused counselling interventions. Follow 'What's up' walk in® on Twitter @whatsupwalkin or visit www.whatsupwalkin.ca.

SOURCE East Metro Youth Services

Image with caption: "David O'Brien, Lead Agency Network Manager for 'What's up' walk in®, Claire Fainer, Executive Director, East Metro Youth Services, and the Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services attend the 'What's up' walk in® clinic expansion celebration at YouthLink. (CNW Group/East Metro Youth Services)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161018_C3688_PHOTO_EN_797826.jpg

For further information: Sandy Blackwood, Counsel Public Affairs, Inc., O: 416-920-0716 ext. 240, C: 647-927-7346, sblackwood@counselpa.com

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East Metro Youth Services

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