Youth Mental Health and Addictions Advocates Celebrate Announcement

Tuesday, May 3, 2022 - 12:33pm

Sarnia, ON – May 3, 2022 – Advocates of youth mental health and addictions services are celebrating the announcement by Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) and the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health to include Sarnia-Lambton in the most recent round of funding for eight new sites across the province.

Bob Bailey MPP for Sarnia-Lambton was thrilled with Sarnia-Lambton’s inclusion in this new funding, “My congratulations to the many community partners and supporters who have been involved in this initiative. Having advocated with my colleagues for this funding, I am proud to represent a community who have come together in partnership to expand and improve access to youth mental health and addictions care. All of Sarnia-Lambton will benefit from our government’s investment in care for young people in our community.”

Since 2018, volunteers, donors and partners have been working to establish an ACCESS Open Minds site in Sarnia-Lambton that will transform mental health and addictions care for youth ages 11-25 and their families. St. Clair Child & Youth Services, Bluewater Health and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Lambton Kent together with the Spoken Hope Youth Advisory Council and the Bluewater Health Foundation have worked tirelessly to raise $3M and to co-create a youth space that will facilitate quick access to mental health and addictions education, assessments, counselling and treatment.

“We are excited about this funding announcement,” said Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Vice President, Integrated Services, CMHA Lambton Kent and Bluewater Health, “this achievement represents the efforts of many working together for the common goal of expanded and sustainable mental health and addictions care for young people in our community. Having access to YWHO resources also enables us to benefit from the most current thinking and research related to the delivery of mental health and addictions care. This is a significant achievement for our community.”

As Lambton County’s Lead Agency for child/youth mental health, St. Clair Child & Youth Services Executive Director, Sue Barnes believes it’s important to be responsive to the needs of the community. “The need in our community is urgent and this sustainable funding will enable us to invest in solutions that bring our organizations together as one team, engage with young people as decision makers and overcome common obstacles. This funding is a welcome announcement and we are so pleased to move this work forward.”
Throughout the planning process, the Spoken Hope Youth Advisory Committee members have dedicated themselves to using their own experiences to improve experiences for other young people in need. Spoken Hope Co-chairs Bella McGill and Janessa Labadie reflected on their efforts, “Working towards this goal over the last few years we have been thrilled that youth have been represented and our voices genuinely valued,” noted McGill. Labadie added, “To have been approved for this funding is such a positive affirmation of our experiences and efforts.”

“Philanthropic support has been essential to the establishment of an ACCESS Open Minds for youth in the Sarnia-Lambton community. This announcement today is the cherry on top of the remarkable generosity this project has received!" said Kathy Alexander, Executive Director, Bluewater Health Foundation. "The leadership and commitment of the Mike Weir Foundation, the Whitton Family and countless businesses and individuals whose generosity has made ACCESS Open Minds a reality must be acknowledged and applauded. We are grateful to each and everyone. Together, we are making a difference for youth in our community."

The new site will be located in Sarnia at the corner of Lochiel and Front streets and is currently under construction, with plans to open in late 2022.

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