Port Hope mayor asks Northumberland residents to share their input and ideas for new youth wellness hub

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The Municipality of Port Hope’s mayor is encouraging residents to share their thoughts and ideas about how to make Northumberland County’s new youth wellness hub a success.

Olena Hankivsky is excited about the potential for the Port Hope-based youth wellness hub, which is part of the Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) network.

Youth wellness hubs, of which there are now more than 20 in the province, are designed to make it faster and easier for young people to connect to mental health and substance use services. The concept of a YWHO site is to provide integrated services in one location.

Hankivsky said community members can help ensure the centre meets area young people’s needs by having their say now about what supports and services are needed at the hub, which is slated to be permanently located at 15 Cavan St. in 2025.

“It will be a game-changer,” Hankivsky told kawarthaNOW. “The youth in our community, they fare far worse on all the metrics of health and well-being compared to Ontario averages. This is an opportunity for us to make those improvements.”

“There are going to be many opportunities in the community for folks to be involved in the hub,” Hankivsky said, adding a steering committee is in the works. There’s also an advisory committee of family members and a youth committee “to drive the priorities that youth want to see.”

“It’s not static — it’s constantly going to be changing with the evolving needs of our youth,” she added. “I just invite everybody to come together and to work together … we can all then share in that goal of making sure our kids are OK.”

Across Ontario, youth wellness hubs (YWH) are designed to provide high-quality integrated youth services to support the well-being of young people aged 12 to 25, including mental health and substance use supports, primary health care, community and social supports, and more. YWHO is an Integrated Youth Services (IYS) initiative designed to address the service gaps in the youth mental health and substance use sectors in Ontario.

Northumberland County’s Rebound Child & Youth Services, the agency at the lead of the new hub, hosted public engagement sessions to let residents know about the YWH and hear what services they’d like to see to support mental health wellness for area young people.

Earlier this month, Hankivsky joined other politicians and stakeholders in Port Hope for the Ontario government’s official announcement about the new hub for Northumberland County. The Port Hope hub is one of 10 new additions to the network of 22 YWHs already opened since 2020, bringing the total to 32 across the province.

“As we expand the number of (youth wellness hubs) across the province, young people in Port Hope can connect to the mental health and addictions care they need, in one convenient location, closer to home,” said Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s deputy premier and health minister, in a media release.

The goal is to connect youth aged 12 to 25 and their families in Northumberland County and Alderville First Nation to convenient and free mental health, substance use, and primary care services in a safe, youth-friendly space.

“We’re going to have wrap-around services,” Hankivsky said. “We’re going to have that coordination and that integration.”

Rural communities in the area will also be supported by a mobile hub model, making it easier for youth to drop in for in-person counselling or peer support close to where they live, the media release noted.

The hub will provide other services that include family support, education, employment, housing and access to community programs such as financial assistance for recreational programs and legal support. These services will focus on delivering culturally appropriate and trauma-informed care, according to the province.

Between 2020 and 2023, Ontario’s 22 YWHs connected 43,000 youth and their families to mental health, substance use, and wellness services, accounting for more than 168,000 visits, the province noted.

For more information or to get involved, visit the Rebound Child & Youth Services website at www.rcys.ca or call 905-372-0007.

Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, KawarthaNOW

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