The Government of Ontario has announced $31 million in annualized funding to support the delivery of province-wide virtual walk-in mental health counselling for children, youth and families. For the past five months, Strides Toronto, the Lead Agency for Infant Child and Youth Mental Health in Toronto, and Windsor’s Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare (HDGH) have been moving forward with launching a province-wide model to deliver virtual counselling services to children, youth and families.
The provincial program, planned to launch in 2021, will offer rapid access virtual walk-in counselling, plus an entry way into ongoing mental health services. “During the pandemic, children, youth and families responded favorably to connecting virtually with clinicians and mental health services. For many families—in particular, those living in remote and underserved regions of Ontario— virtual access to mental health services eliminates the burden of travel and wait times while enhancing service levels,” said Karen Ingebrigtson and Linda Dugas, co-chairs of the Child and Youth Mental Health Lead Agency Consortium representing the lead agencies from 33 service areas across Ontario.
Strides Toronto CEO Janet McCrimmon and HDGH President & CEO Janice Kaffer added, “The pandemic revealed the child and youth mental health sector’s ability to pivot quickly and to tailor our services to support virtual connections with youth and families. The children, youth and families we serve will benefit immeasurably from the availability of one-number, virtual access to mental health counselling —regardless of where they live in Ontario.”
The Province also announced a 5% increase in child and youth mental health funding. This funding is intended to address wait lists and wait times for child and youth mental health services. Strides Toronto is looking forward to furthering these goals in rolling out this funding within our agency.