Toronto Opens Walk-In Mental Health Clinics

With one in five Canadians being affected my mental health issues, and a gaping hole in the health care system for mental health services, the opening of mental health walk-in clinics around Toronto comes as a welcome – and necessary – addition.

This initiative has been developed by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and serves to provide immediate, in-person help for those struggling with mental health issues. Considering mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada, there is no doubt these services are imperative. At present, there are services available online and via telephone, but the free direct services open to the public have long waiting lists, are expensive, or both.

Since 70% of mental illness have their onset in childhood or adolescence, these services are aimed primarily at young people between the ages of 11 and 25.

Olivia Heffernan, youth engagement facilitator at CAMH, explains the dire need for this service for young people. “We need to have a voice so that we can get the care that’s right for us,” she said. “In this project, we’ve set out to change the youth mental health system, and that’s empowering.”

It’s the hope of the CAMH that the programs can be expanded, but first, they want to see how well the services are received – and then there will have to be adjustments to build the ideal system.

“The thing many people in this field haven’t done is ask young people, ‘What are your goals? What are your needs?’” said Dr. Joanna Henderson, director of CAMH’s McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health.

“Without understanding youth experience of mental illness, it’s hard to organize services in an informed way. Having youth at the table is crucial to help us ask the right questions and look at outcomes that are meaningful to them.”

Bringing mental illness into a more public and accessible sphere may also help end the stigma.

According to the CAMH, only 50% of people would tell friends or coworkers about a family member struggling with mental illness, but 72% would share that a family member had cancer. Similarly, 42% of Canadians express reluctance to socialize with a friend who has a mental illness, and 55% would be unlikely to form a spousal relationship with someone who suffers.

At present, mental health services receive only 7% of healthcare dollars but account for 10% of the disease burden in Ontario.

The new walk-in clinics are located at:

Delisle Youth Services (Yonge and Eglinton)
This clinic is located in the basement of the library building, suite 102. Currently, the hours of operation are Tuesday and Wednesday, from 2 pm to 5 pm. Thursday from 2 pm to 6 pm, and Saturday from 10 am – 1 pm. It is asked patients show up at least an hour before closing.

East Metro Youth Services (Scarborough)

The East Metro Youth Services ‘What’s Up?’ walk-in clinic is open six days a week.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, from 2 pm to 8 pm (last appointment at 7 pm)

Tuesday from 10 am to 5 pm (last appointment at 4 pm)

Friday from 10 am to 5 pm (last appointment at 4 pm)

Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm (last appointment at 1 pm)

You don’t need a health card and service is offered in a variety of languages, including Tamil, Dari/Farsi, and Hindi at appointed times.

On Tuesdays from 2 pm to 5 pm, there is a specific walk-in for youth with developmental disabilities and autism. On Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, the East QREW LGBTQ youth support group takes place.

South East Toronto Family Health (Woodbine and Danforth)

The walk-in clinic in this facility is still being arranged. Please call 416-423-8800 to find out when it will be officially open.

To learn more about CAMH initiatives, visit their website at www.camh.ca.

Hollay Ghadery

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