Mental health crisis support clinic offers hope for troubled youth
Published Tuesday, January 28, 2014 10:57PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 28, 2014 11:32PM EST
A walk-in clinic for youth suffering mental health crises is giving hope to dozens of young patients in Ontario.
The Renfrew County Crisis Support Centre for Youth and Families in the Ottawa Valley is run by Tom Sidney, a youth counsellor who saw many young patients -- children and teens -- wait for months to get psychiatric help.
The clinic, which operates at two locations, is a pilot project funded by donations. In just six months, it has treated 70 youths, including 12-year-old Michael.
Michael, who asked that his identity not be revealed, told CTV News that he used to cut himself and was at risk of suicide.
“I was scared,” he said. “I couldn’t think straight.
“The good thing about the clinic is you can drop in whenever you feel … stressed.”
The clinic is only open eight hours a week for the duration of the pilot project, but it has made a big difference in Terry Morris’s life.
The teen has suffered from depression and used to spend his days in a darkened bedroom, with suicidal thoughts.
“I thought my life was entirely pointless and there was no hope for me and I would be miserable forever,” he said.
Morris was placed on a one-year waiting list to see a psychiatrist.
When his condition worsened, his mother was advised to call the police -- a faster way of getting Morris to the hospital for treatment.
“You know what it is like to watch your son go in handcuffs,” Jennifer Morris said. “When he got in that police car cruiser, I felt awful as a mother.”
Eventually, Morris heard about the Renfrew County clinic. He has been receiving therapy there since July.
“I never thought my life would change the way it has in the last six months,” he said. “It has been absolutely amazing.”
Tom Sidney said the clinic has received great feedback from patients and their families.
“It is certainly something that has filled a nice bridge gap for the community working with other agencies in the community too,” he said. “We have kids that come to the clinic who are still alive today.”
Terry Morris said there is a great need for mental health services among his peers.
“There are so many friends who secretly keep all these feelings bottled up inside and they are so ashamed but they put a smile on their face,” he said. “I wish that so many more people could undergo the transformation I went under. That is why I feel it is so important that something exists in the community, especially someone as awesome as Tom.”
The Renfrew County clinic is one of a very small number of clinics that are trying this approach. Another is East Metro Youth Services in Scarborough, which offers a similar service.
Many families in crisis are desperate for more walk in clinics for mental health to open across Canada.
The crisis intervention walk-in clinic in Pembroke (715 Mackay St.) is open on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and the one in Renfrew (164 Plaunt St.) is open on Thursdays at the same times. The phone number is 613-635-4715, ext. 4.
With a report by CTV Medical Specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip