March 6, 2017
A new LHSC pilot project is underway aimed at improving the system of mental health and addictions care for transition age youth (16-25 years). Cornerstone Counselling, as the service is known, is delivered at Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) in partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association- Middlesex, Addiction Services of Thames Valley and mindyourmind. The self-referral program provides access to a team of health professionals including a peer support worker, social worker, addiction counselor and psychiatrist to youth transitioning out of the adolescent mental health program, or who are seeking support for the first time.
“Youth told us they wanted a service that was after hours, non-crisis and youth centered. They told us they wanted peer-support. They told us they wanted better integration of hospital and community services,” said Dr. Javeed Sukhera, LHSC Physican Lead, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “We have learned so many lessons that we believe will help us address the numerous challenges facing youth mental health services in our community.”
The official launch of Cornerstone Counselling was celebrated recently at a gathering inside the YOU Made It Café, bringing together program staff, community partners, supporters and key donors to the project. Scarlett Davidson, a member of the LHSC Youth Mental Health Advisory Council – a group instrumental in providing direction and feedback as the pilot was developed – shared her challenges in seeking support during her transition from the adolescent mental health program into the adult system, and spoke about the benefits she believes young people will see from this new model of care.
The project is generously funded through London Health Sciences Foundation by the London Community Foundation, the LHSC Auxillary, as well as Great West Life, London Life and Canada Life.
“We engaged and listened authentically to the voices of our community partners and most importantly, to youth themselves”, said Dr. Sukhera. “Our model is a unique innovation that will inform the mental health services of the future. Through continuous evaluation and input, we hope to refine our model into a shining example for other areas in the province, country and globe.”
Dr. Javeed Sukhera, Physician Lead, Child and Adolescent Mental Health; Jill Lynch, Project Facilitator, Transition Age Project; Scarlett Davidson, LHSC Youth Mental Health Advisory Council member; and Julie Trpkovski, Vice President, Mental Health and Emergency Services.