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Youth hubs offer opportunities for connection and support

Posted August 12, 2022 in Bell Let's Talk, English by 0

As we mark International Youth Day on August 12, Bell Let’s Talk is proud to highlight the pan-Canadian Integrated Youth Services (IYS) movement, which is giving young people ages 12 to 25 a say in the collaborative planning and implementation of crucial mental health supports across the country.

This year, International Youth Day is focusing on intergenerational solidarity, highlighting the age-related barriers youth face in accessing employment, healthcare, and social justice. In response to these challenges, the Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation Partnership is supporting youth hubs across Canada to provide accessible mental health and addiction care, social services, employment support, and other key resources all in one youth-friendly place.

In a recent survey, 57% of young people reported experiencing a mental health issue in the past two years but less than one in three of them sought help*. That’s why youth hubs are prioritizing flexible, walk-in appointments and culturally responsive integrated services – to help reach those who face barriers to care.

Over the past decade, the IYS movement has grown from a few single sites into comprehensive systems of care in many provinces, with initiatives such as Foundry in British Columbia, Huddle in Manitoba, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario, Aire ouverte in Québec and the pan-Canadian research network ACCESS Open Minds leading the way. This past week, the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) also released a report, commissioned by the Bell-GBF Partnership, highlighting the successful development and implementation of IYS in Canada, noting its potential to improve standards of care and knowledge exchange.

With new initiatives in development in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, IYS is transforming mental health care across the country. In fact, 86% of young people would recommend youth hubs to their peers. To learn why, you can check out stories from three young people who access youth hubs in their communities.


Kiara, Kenora Youth Wellness Hub (Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario)

Since learning about Kenora’s Youth Wellness Hub at a local event, Kiara has found more than just mental health care – she has found a community. “The Youth Wellness Hub has given me a sense of belonging in my community,” she said. “It’s a great place to hang out and find resources. There is always something to do and someone to talk to, and you meet nice people.”

What made the Youth Wellness Hub stand out for Kiara was the integration of other services that youth would value, such as art workshops, movie screenings and opportunities to attend community cultural events. It’s a safe and welcoming space to get help and make meaningful connections. Her advice for other young people facing mental health challenges? “Take it one day at a time,” she said. “Everything gets better, and you grow.”

Delaney, Huddle NorWest, Winnipeg

In May 2020, Delaney began struggling with depression and anxiety to the point where she couldn’t get out of bed or focus on her school work. She had heard about the NorWest Youth Hub (now Huddle NorWest) in high school and decided to start using their therapy services.

“The youth hub is a very comforting and welcoming space, compared to other mental health services that I have accessed in the past,” she explained. “It offers youth-led services, which is incredible because I think that youth should have a say in what type of services they receive. It’s not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all mental health service.”

With the support of the youth hub, Delaney has learned how to listen to her body, and give herself space instead of pushing through her emotions. She really values having a friendly and non-judgemental place to get help. “The youth hub has changed my life in many ways. It pulled me out of a really dark time and provided me with a place to be vulnerable and open about my mental illness, which allowed me to heal and take care of myself.”

Megean, Kenora Youth Wellness Hub (Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario)

Attending the Youth Wellness Hub has become part of Megean’s daily routine. “I am very comfortable coming to the hub just to hang out with staff or participate in the fun programming options that they have. I really like that if I am having a bad day, I can just walk upstairs and talk to a counsellor about what is going on.”

Along with mental health support, Megean has been able to access employment advice and educational support. She also shares ideas about cultural events with the staff and loves that her voice is prioritized at the centre. “I don’t know where I would be without the Kenora Youth Wellness Hub and all of the support that I have received from the staff and organization.”

71% of Canadians agree that having a common approach to youth mental health across their province would be beneficial. As more youth hubs are built across the country, there is an immense opportunity to share how IYS is making a difference for young people. Through the Bell-Graham Boeckh Foundation Partnership, Bell Let’s Talk is proud to help grow the IYS movement and accelerate the delivery of mental health and wellness services across Canada. You can learn more by watching the video below.

To discover more perspectives about IYS, check out our previous posts about Families and caregivers supporting youth mental health, Youth voices transforming mental health, Supporting youth mental health in New Brunswick and Connecting culture and wellness in Eskasoni First Nation.

*Source: data is based on an online survey (conducted by Bell through a 3rd party panel provider (Schlesinger Group)) with Canadians from March 22 to April 7, 2022 and was statistically weighted to represent the Canadian general population for region, gender and age.

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