Thursday, September 29, 2022

New Youth Wellness Hub celebrates grand opening in Guelph

Joined in cutting the ribbon for the opening of the Grove Hub at the University of Guelph on June 21, 2022, from left, CMHAWW CEO Helen Fishburne, local MPP Mike Schreiner, G Director of Student Welfare Services Alison Burnett, U of U. G psychology student Nida Ansari, Grove executive director Cindy Moffatt Forsyth, and Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie.

The Grove, a center that was a one-stop shop for youth mental health and wellness, marked its official grand opening at the University of Guelph on Tuesday, June 21. While the event was meant to be a celebration, it opened with some worrying statistics.

“I’m here to share today’s hard news,” Helen Fishburne, chief executive officer of the Canadian mental health association Waterloo Wellington, told the crowd.

He described the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased demand for the service.

He said the need for counseling services for children and youth has increased by 146 percent, while the demand for psychiatric services has increased by 96 percent.

“Children and youth and their families have been really affected over the last two and a half years,” Fishburne said.

Fishburne said that among youth 13 to 15, there have been more incidents of aggressive behavior, such as fights and cyberbullying, while older youth who are generally finding more independence struggled in a different way, “in an act more”, said Fishburne.

“We’ve seen them turn to self-harm and substance abuse,” she said.

The silver lining to this difficult news, said Fishburne, is the renewed empathy and compassion that youth can find in the community through organizations like Grove.

“The grove represents the place where they can just walk and just be supported,” she said.

The Grove Hub offers a variety of programs and services for youth ages 12 to 26, including everything from entertainment programs to mental health services. Children may come to get a snack or plug in their laptop, or they may come to seek support for a more serious problem.

The hub, now open on the U of G campus at 50 College Avenue W, is one of several operating in Guelph and Wellington counties, and although it is located at the university, it serves both students and members of the wider community.

Other Grove hubs are located in Erin, Palmerston, Fergus and Guelph at the YMCA of Two Rivers. The sites are networked together and work with community partners with the goal of building a more effective health and social service system to meet the needs of youth.

“Every day, youth walk into the hub,” said Cindy Moffatt Forsyth, Grove’s executive director. “They may be there just to plug their phone in, or they are there because they want some help.”

She gave viewers an example of how to help Hub, telling a young man she knew had received counseling support through Grove.

“He was fine on Thursday. On Friday night, he got into trouble,” she said.

Young people called the local mental health and addiction crisis support line here 24/7, and the operator was able to get their file from Grove. The file provided information that helped the operator stabilize the youth.

Moffat Forsyth said the Grove outreach worker was able to make sure young people were getting the support they needed on Monday morning.

He emphasized the importance of making it easier for youth to access the support they need without having to tell their stories multiple times to various organizations.

“It’s all about changing the system and it’s all about the youth,” she said.

To learn more about The Grove Hub and its programs, visit thegrovehubs.ca.

Nation World News Desk
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