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Federal funding boosts hopes for mental health resources

Vaseline 3 months ago

Half a billion dollars for a youth mental health program will be delivered by community organizations

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A recent funding announcement from the federal government has a Kingston mental health organization anticipating the opportunity to provide more services to youth in their communities.

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Last week, the federal government announced half a billion dollars over four years to establish a youth mental health fund, which would be delivered through community organizations.

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Tara Everitt is director of community services for Resolve Counseling Services, a non-profit Kingston agency that offers counseling programs for children, youth, families and adult couples and individuals.

The agency is a member of Resolve Counseling Services Canada and a member of the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.

In an interview on Tuesday, Everitt described the funding announcement as “huge.”

“I was excited when I saw the announcement, especially for our organization and what that could mean,” she said. “Currently, accessibility as a young adult is limited.”

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Everitt said mental health and counseling services in particular for young people entering adulthood – between the ages of 18 and 25 – can be very difficult to access due to affordability. There is some funding for short-term guidance, but this is often not sufficient.

“If you’re a young person struggling with different issues, short-term counseling can only do so much, and sometimes longer-term therapies are what’s needed,” she said. “But if it’s not covered by a benefit plan, it’s very difficult for someone to seek longer-term advice.”

An April 9 Canadian government news release said the $500 million fund will help reduce wait times and provide more care options for young people, who are more likely to struggle with the costs of private mental health care.

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Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jenna Sudds told the Whig-Standard that mental health among young people has suffered since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen a decline in recent years for a number of reasons, I think,” Sudds said. “COVID has definitely had an impact on young people and the way they lived their lives and some of the issues they faced.”

Sudds called precarious employment and housing affordability “taking a toll” on young people in Canada.

“(This) announcement is really about delivering (mental health care) to our young people and ensuring they get the mental health care they need to reach their full potential.”

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While the delivery model has not yet been revealed, Sudds said the government is willing to work with community organizations to implement the fund.

“There are some incredible partners and community organizations who have been doing this work for a number of years but haven’t necessarily had the capacity to expand their services to the extent they are needed as we have seen more and more young people seeking mental health need health care,” Sudds said. “Our plan is to leverage that expertise and these organizations that have the opportunity to continue and scale the work that they do.”

Sudds says the funding is aimed at increasing access to services in the community.

“It’s the ability to increase that access, I think, that this fund and this investment will help support,” she said.

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Everitt is hopeful that Resolve and other local organizations can use the fund to provide more services to the Kingston community. While the dream is to integrate mental health care into the public health care system so that it is accessible to all, an influx of money can help.

“There are family services all over the province, and we’re all struggling with funding and money,” she said. “It would be nice if there was some form of sustainability to help support more people and more people on lower incomes.

“We want to support as many people as possible.”

[email protected]

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