Progress Report - February 2016
Dear Community Partner:
Since our October Lead Agency Progress Update, the Lead Agency Advisory Council (Lutherwood and seven other core service delivery partners) has continued to transform Waterloo Region’s children’s mental health system through the Ministry of Child and Youth Service’s Moving on Mental Health plan.
Funds Begin to Support Change
Last year, the Lead Agency Advisory Council (LAAC) completed its Priority Roadmap which identified the actions needed to achieve each of its three key priorities (Awareness, Access and Family Support). Using the Priority Roadmap as the foundation and based on LAAC recommendations, the Lutherwood Board of Governors requested one-time in-year funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) to address some immediate community-based mental health service pressures. MCYS approved the request which supports seven local agency initiatives including:
- developing curriculum and support to parents of youth identifying as LGBTQ
- additional assessments for children who have been sexually abused
- language and interpretation services to help Syrian and other refugees and immigrants access mental health supports
- hiring a clinician to support Francophone children and youth
- purchasing an assessment screening tool for First Nations, Metis and Inuit youth
- educating parents in rural areas on children’s mental health and available services
- hiring additional workers to reduce waitlists and provide better service
In addition, MCYS approved funding for the next fiscal year that will help us explore how the Front Door centralized access system run by Carizon and Lutherwood can better integrate with the Here 24/7 access system operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association. MCYS also approved funding for additional staff with appropriate linguistic skills and cultural competencies to ensure broader and sustainable access to child and youth mental health services for First Nations-Metis-Inuit, Francophone, new immigrants and refugees, LGBTQ and those living in the rural townships of Waterloo Region.
Engaging Youth in The New Mentality
The stigma of having a mental health issue stops too many youth from seeking help. Breaking that stigma down and transforming the system so that it works for youth, means engaging youth in the process. So Lutherwood, KW-Counselling and the Ontario Centre of Excellence of Child and Youth Mental Health (Ottawa) launched a local chapter of The New Mentality. With a network of youth-facilitated groups across Ontario, The New Mentality’s youth facilitators and adult allies work together on projects to promote meaningful engagement by empowering young people to work on the mental health issues they are most passionate about. Our January 27 training session attracted seventeen youth and twenty-three adult staff members from local service agencies and laid the foundation for a local chapter to influence change within the mental health system and promote positive mental health and well-being in their schools and communities. Stay tuned for more from our local The New Mentality chapter.
Accessing mental health services for children and youth can be difficult and confusing; particularly in rural areas where service access is challenged by geographic, economic and cultural differences. One consequence of this challenge is underscored by recent study results indicating that youth living in Ontario’s rural areas are at greater risk for suicide. To understand the unique needs of youth in Waterloo Region’s rural community, LAAC will be holding interviews and focus groups with parents and young people who live in rural areas as well as other rural service providers. The study will identify the challenges and enablers of accessing and delivering child and youth mental health services, and the results will help improve services and service access for children and youth with serious mental health issues and their families.
Thank you for your continued interest in this important community work. If you have any suggestions or questions about our lead agency work, please contact Randy Penney, Director, Lead Agency, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-884-1470 x1221.