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Could more young people be helped if mental health services were brought to them?

(Courtesy CMHA York and South Simcoe via Facebook)
Summary

Graffiti-covered RV makes mental health services more accessible to young people, says a counsellor

Mobile clinic would be less threatening compared to going to the hospital: expert

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A push to make mental health services available to more young people in Ontario is getting a big thumbs-up from a counsellor here in Vancouver.

A new idea is being tried out there that features a clinic in an RV.

A graffiti-covered vehicle stops at two locations a day; it makes services more accessible both practically and psychologically, says counsellor Alyson Jones.

She points out the concept means there isn’t an expectation of youth seeking out help. Instead, the help comes to them.

“It is something relevant to the young people. It’s something that I believe would be much less threatening to them than necessarily going to the hospital or going to a more clinical setting. And I think… there’s an ease in accessing it as compared to maybe other services,” says Jones.

A nurse practitioner, a peer support specialist and a youth mental health worker are on the RV six days a week.

“This is what they do; they know how to kind of assess what’s needed and then get them the other services that they may need quicker. So once you have that first contact, you’ve now got the channel in.”

Jones adds the fact the RV is simply labelled as a clinic as opposed to a mental health clinic could mean more young people will be willing to use it. “There’s all sorts of supports that are available there, and it destigmatizes, I think, some of the barriers, that can be a barrier to service.”

She thinks it could help relieve congestion emergency rooms and doctors’ offices.

“For me, working with youth and mental health, it’s just really encouraging to me to see that they’re coming up with progressive ideas that are outside the box, that doesn’t have to be a traditional approach. So, I really applaud the people that have got this happening, and I hope that we here in this province as well start to really look at this because there are a lot of mental health initiatives going on for youth right now, and the thing that we’re hearing back from the youth is ‘We need services to be more accessible to us.'”

The idea was developed by an Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.