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HomeNews'Young people are not okay:' MiND-AID creating mobile youth wellness hub

‘Young people are not okay:’ MiND-AID creating mobile youth wellness hub

MiND-AID is looking to partner with Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) to create a mobile hub that can support young people struggling with their mental health throughout Muskoka. 

“It’s integrated services on wheels,” explained Jody North, executive director and navigator at MiND-AID, during the District of Muskoka’s March 21 Health Services Committee. 

There are 22 YWHO hubs. 

North said it could serve as an indoor or outdoor gathering space with room for a clinical office or private consultation inside and presentations from guest speakers. 

She added the hub will also have a special focus on Indigenous culture and inclusion of marginalized youth service providers. 

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She hopes to have the hub operational by this fall. However, it would be parked in the winter, although programs would continue. 

“A giant [recreational vehicle] on Muskoka’s winter roads is not a good idea,” she joked. 

According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, 70 percent of mental health programs begin during childhood or adolescence. Compounding that, North said youth who are trying to get help are faced with barrier after barrier, including “unacceptable” wait times of up to a year to see a doctor. 

“According to the World Health Organization, mental health disorders will be the world’s leading cause of disability by 2030 and the consequences of failing to address adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults,” said North. 

She pointed out the demand for mental health services has only grown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and now an “over-taxed” system is having trouble keeping up. 

“Young people are not okay,” said North. 

She asked for district council to support some of the start-up costs for the project. North estimated the first year of the hub will cost around $300,000 with $191,000 already accounted for through grants and fundraising. 

“We’re absolutely confident that with the relationship we’re already forging with Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario that we may be considered, very soon, to become a provincially funded hub,” added North. 

However, the issue is they need to prove they’re worthy of the funding in a competitive environment. 

She asked the district to contribute $100,000 to the project. Mayor of Lake of Bays Terry Glover, chair of the committee, said council will have to get district staff to investigate how this could be funded since it’s not included in the district’s 2024 budget. 

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