New System Being Developed To Help Youth Access Mental Health Supports

A new strategy is being developed to help youth across Wood Buffalo access mental health supports.

Multiple organizations are partnering to create the Integrated Youth Hub Strategy which will help people between the ages of 11 and 24 navigate the system.

The Fort McMurray Public and Catholic School Districts, Northland School Division, the Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network, the Athabasca Tribal Council, and the Canadian Mental Health Association of Wood Buffalo are a handful of the groups who are a part of the initiative.

Manager of the Youth Hub Strategy Paula Galenzoski tells Mix News the idea is to help youth start their journey through the different supports.

“This really provides a way to provide connection, support, and direction for that group of youth and young adults to be able to find the right treatment, at the right place, with the right provider at the right time.”

Multiple studies have looked into the mental health of youth since the Horse River wildfire in 2016.

One report suggested the average mental health of students was dramatically decreasing.

Galenzoski says these reports and the added stress on the school boards due to the provincial budget prove this community-based approach is needed.

“It really is important that we create a web and network community-based so people aren’t left unsupported and not letting people flounder while they’re waiting for some magical phone call to come.”

The program is still in the early development phases. The hope is they will be able to take in clients early in the new year.

Once officially open, anybody between the aforementioned ages can access the service without any referral.

“They need to know that they are going to be a part of the process and that we’re not going to do it for them, we’re going to do it with them,” added Galenzoski.

This initiative is also coinciding with the opening of the CMHA of Wood Buffalo’s Recovery College.

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