Bell Let’s Talk Grant Helps BIPOC Youth Access Mental Health & Substance Use Care 

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre (YWC) is pleased to receive a $20,000 grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund. The grant will support YouThrive, an innovative mobile program dedicated to delivering mental health and substance use care to Black, Indigenous, and racialized children, youth and families in the Hamilton community.

Specifically, the grant is enabling the YWC to fund the role of a youth mentor who identifies as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour (BIPOC), and who has lived experience with navigating the mental health and substance use services system. The mentor’s role is to help BIPOC youth in Hamilton gain access to the culturally appropriate care they need.

“Our clients have told us, time and time again, that there are many barriers racialized youth in our community face when accessing mental health and substance use care,” says Lisa Jeffs, the program manager at the YWC. “Through this grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund, the YouThrive program and its team of BIPOC mentors and clinicians are breaking down those barriers and continuing the YWC’s work to create an inclusive, accessible environment for all youth to get the care they need how, and where, they need it.”

The YouThrive team regularly visits local community groups and organizations, such as schools, community centres, and cultural centres, to build connections with BIPOC youth and provide direct access to culturally appropriate mental health and substance use supports. Youth can also self-refer to YouThrive services through the YWC, or be referred by family, friends, a medical professional, or other service providers in the community.

“I am very fortunate to be a part of such an innovative, ground-breaking mental wellness program that specifically provides services to Black, Indigenous and racialized children, youth and families,” says Jaleesa Bygrave, a YouThrive clinician. “Historically, Black, Indigenous and racialized folks have experienced varying forms of racism from mental health services in the community, which has resulted in an understandable mistrust of the system. YouThrive aims to address this through the provision of mental wellness services that take into account their experiences and perspectives.”

YouThrive is run in partnership with Thrive Child and Youth Trauma Services, De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre, and the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre. This unique partnership enables the program to provide support to children and youth ages 4 to 25, and their families. In addition to wellness workshops and peer-support groups, YouThrive provides one-on-one sessions to children and youth in need. The program also facilitates anti-racism and anti-oppression training and resources for agencies in the community that deliver mental health and substance use services to youth.

“Bell Let’s Talk is pleased to support the YouThrive program at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre to help BIPOC children and youth receive culturally appropriate mental health care in their community,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “The Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund provides grants to mental health organizations in communities throughout the country, including those working to expand access to mental health care to more young people who need support in ethno-cultural communities.”

Bell Let’s Talk promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk Day and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research and workplace leadership initiatives throughout the country. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

About St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre
Located in Hamilton’s downtown core, St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre (YWC) is a safe environment for young people ages 17 to 25 to access expert mental health and substance use care. The YWC focuses on early intervention of mental health and addiction concerns, support for those transitioning from child/adolescent care services to adult care services, and mobile care for those facing barriers to accessing services and programs. Unlike other specialized services, the YWC accepts self-referrals for care from youth, as well as referrals from family/friends, medical professionals, and youth mental health and substance use service providers in the community. To learn more, please visit www. reachouthamilton.ca.