Ontario Supports Expanding Virtual Mental Health Services for Youth
March 11, 2021
TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $300,000 in mental health services to help young people access supports to help manage stress, depression and anxiety. The funding is being provided through the Ontario Together Fund to help Stella's Place hire more personnel to expand its online app services across the province. Stella's Place is a Toronto-based, registered charity and non-profit organization that provides mental health services and programs for young adults aged 16 to 29. "This pandemic has been especially difficult for many young people and supporting their mental health has never been more important," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "Through the Ontario Together Fund, our government is working with Stella's Place to make sure there is someone ready to listen and provide expert help when young people seek assistance and take the important step in their journey towards mental wellness." Stella's Place will expand its BeanBagChat app to communities across Ontario by collaborating with various organizations that seek to use the app. The app provides young adults with confidential chat support from trained peer support workers and a pathway to clinical services, training for employment, wellness, and recovery services. More than 500 young adults and their families receive support from Stella's Place each year and with the new funding that number could increase as service hours are being extended. "Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen thousands of individuals and families reach out for help, including many younger Ontarians," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "This investment through the Ontario Together Fund will ensure that more children, youth and their families can access effective, innovative and safe mental health and addictions supports during these difficult times." "Stella's Place is proud to partner with the Government of Ontario to expand the BeanBagChat app beyond the GTA," said Wangari Muriuki, Executive Director of Stella's Place. "Now more than ever, youth in our communities across Ontario need to know that there is someone there to listen and help when they need it most." The government is delivering targeted investments through the Ontario Together Fund to help businesses retool or adopt the technological changes needed to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector or organizations developing solutions for other critical public services. Quick Facts
The government launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses retool their operations to produce PPE and develop technology-driven solutions and services for businesses to reopen safely.
Businesses and individuals looking to help in the fight against COVID-19 can submit their proposals through the Ontario Together portal.
There is strong evidence showing COVID-19 has brought increased stress levels among young adults. Between 2019 and 2020, BeanBagChat usage has increased by 280 per cent. Stella’s Place anticipates an additional increase of 100 per cent in 2021.
Over the last several years the mental health needs of postsecondary students have increased dramatically in Ontario. According to the last National College Health Assessment survey of the Canadian student population (2019): 52 per cent of students reported feeling depressed, compared to 46 per cent in 2016; 69 per cent experienced anxiety; 12 per cent of Canada’s students had considered suicide, compared to 14 per cent in 2016; and, 2.8 per cent of students reported having attempted suicide.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the province invested up to $194 million in emergency funding for mental health and addictions services. This emergency funding has already helped more than 57,000 Ontarians continue to access services they need during this challenging time, including new supports such as virtual tools and counselling.
To enable Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario is investing $3.8 billion over 10 years to create new services and expand programs.
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