Young and healthy: In Scarborough’s own backyard
Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is always invested in the specific needs of our community. Sometimes, that means designing services that bridge a gap, or embracing the newest technology; other times it means seeking insights from our patients, families, and community, or raising financial support for new equipment and capital renovations.
What’s consistent throughout it all, is SHN’s vision to become Canada’s leading teaching community health network – transforming your health experience. This rings true across all of our medical programs, from emergency care to nephrology to mental health.
Bridging the gap
We all have mental health. Some of us have also experienced mental illness. But while efforts to increase access to lifesaving mental health services are on the rise, there is one vulnerable population that has seemingly slipped through the cracks.
Patients “aging out” of the children’s system – youth and young adults ages 16 to 24 – experience markedly decreased psychiatric follow up, with limited psychotherapy and psychosocial support. Community partners assist with treatment, but are often unable to accommodate the neurobiological, emotional, social, and developmental needs of youth experiencing severe mental illness.
To fix this gap, Scarborough Health Network’s (SHN) Mental Health program, in collaboration with its Youth Advisory Council (patient advisors between the ages of 18 and 24), brought forward the proposal for Transitional Aged Youth Services (TAYS), a unique program in Scarborough and Ontario, because of its focus on youth with severe mental illness.
Rehabilitation, individual, and group therapy, and Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (ICBT) are just a few of the extensive mental health and medical services available through TAYS. The program is supported by child and youth counsellors with age-appropriate experience, dedicated child/adolescent psychiatrists, and one adult psychiatrist to support the bridge and transition the youth, plus access to community partners across Scarborough.
At the same time, TAYS helps patients to navigate and connect to supports in their community, including counselling, education, employment and housing. A weekly drop-in program, which is geared towards building connections with peers and learning skills that will help with navigating life’s stressors, is also available.
For 22-year-old Shante Taylor, the program has allowed her to feel a sense of support that she didn’t realize she needed.
“Struggling with my mental health, I came to the Emergency Department in hopes of getting help and was referred to TAYS. I was dealing with unresolved grief after losing both of my parents,” Shante reflected.
“At a time when I felt my most vulnerable, it has been extremely helpful having this resource available for me right here in Scarborough where I grew up and still live.”
Shante has come a long way in the short time she has been supported by TAYS.
“Shante has been working so hard and embracing the program so openly,” shared Natasha Halliday, Child and Youth Counsellor. “Every week she is making great strides to incorporate the discussions, lessons, and elements of her treatment plan, into her daily life.”
Of course, it’s not without the generous support of donors who helped bring the TAYS Mental Health Pilot Program at SHN’s Shoniker Clinic to life that Shante is experiencing this level of mental well-being.
“I feel a new sense of independence and support that is allowing me to learn how to pick myself back up when I didn’t think I could. I want to be able to help the spread the word that this incredible support for young people is in our own backyard,” Shante said.
Thank you to our donors! With $100,000 from RBC Foundation, $90,000 from Brian and Carolyn Neysmith, and $20,000 from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, the ground-breaking TAYS program is raising the standards of care for at-risk young people in Scarborough.
To learn more and support SHN’s Mental Health program, visit www.SHNFoundation.ca/MySHN.