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Ontario expands direct mental health services for children

Ontario's ‘One Stop Talk’ program connects youth to mental health counseling by phone, video, text and chat

Ontario has plans to step up mental health services for children and young people in every part of the province.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced Jan. 25 the province is investing $4.75 million to expand the One Stop Talk virtual walk-in counseling program designed to connect children, youth and their families with more convenient and timely ways to access mental health counseling.

“Our government is making it easier and more convenient for children and youth in every corner of the province to access mental health care,” said Jones, in a ministry news release

“This program offers modern, convenient options for youth to connect to help in ways that they’re used to communicating.”

That would mean that the service offers convenient ways to talk to a clinician by phone, video conference, text and chat without an appointment. 

The One Stop Talk program began as a pilot in November, 2022, with six participating mental health organizations, and is now being expanded to additional organizations and their waitlisted patients. When fully implemented, the program will eventually be available to all children, youth and their families, said the ministry of health.

The government is also significantly expanding the number of Youth Wellness Hubs across the province to make it faster and easier for young people to connect to mental health and substance use support, primary care, social services, and more. Through the Addictions Recovery Fund, the government is adding eight new youth wellness hubs to the 14 that were created since 2020, bringing the total to 22 across the province.

These hubs help fill the gap in youth addictions services and also provide children and youth aged 12 to 25 a range of other services, such as vocational support, education services, housing and recreation and wellness.

The eight new Youth Wellness Hubs will be in Sudbury, Algoma Region, Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington, London-Middlesex, Sagamok Anishnabek First Nation, Sarnia-Lambton, Thorncliffe Park, and West Toronto, said the release.