News Local

New Path Youth and Family Services offering walk-in clinics

By Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner

Counsellor Ruth Parr, right, is one of many New Path Youth and Family Services staff members across Simcoe County helping families who are seeking assistance with mental health and wellness.
IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER/POSTMEDIA

Counsellor Ruth Parr, right, is one of many New Path Youth and Family Services staff members across Simcoe County helping families who are seeking assistance with mental health and wellness. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER/POSTMEDIA

Help is just around the corner.

In response to increasing county-wide demand for child and youth mental health services, as well as growing wait lists, New Path Youth and Family Services (New Path) is launching child and youth mental health walk-in clinics starting next week.

Beginning Sept. 18, the walk-in clinics will be offered in all of New Path’s Simcoe County locations in Barrie, Orillia, Collingwood, Bradford and Alliston.

“With the opening of the walk-in clinics, we are changing how we deliver services to clients in Simcoe County,” said Michelle Vennard, New Path’s director of youth and family services. “Walk-in clinics allow us to deliver immediate service to families when they most need it.

“Research has shown the benefits of immediate support for individuals experiencing mental health issues and we are very excited to offer this support in Simcoe County.”

Walk-in clinics provide free, single-session mental health counselling for children and youth up to age 18 and their families, Vennard said.

New Path receives its funding from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.

“If additional supports and services are needed, New Path continues to offer a full spectrum of children’s mental health services.”

In 2016-2017, New Path received approximately 1,500 requests for counselling services and like many children’s mental health agencies across the province, the need for their services has increased over the years.

“The increase in the need for service may be linked to a greater understanding about mental health as well as efforts to de-stigmatize mental health (issues),” Vennard said adding feedback from families and community partners suggest being on a waiting list has been a significant barrier. 

“Children, youth and families report needing services when it fit for them, not when they came to the top of a wait list so we have been seeking ways to deliver service that is more timely and responsive,” she said. “Walk-in clinics are a way that clients can choose when and where they want service.”

Clients will work with a counsellor to determine the concern they wish to address in the session and will leave the session with strategies, skills and/or a better understanding of their concerns, she added.

“We recognize that some children, youth and families will require more than a single session and as such, New Path will continue to offer a full spectrum of services, Vennard said. “The difference (now) is that families will have a face-to-face session first. If they have to wait for a further service, they can return to a walk-in clinic when needed to get further assistance.”

The New Path central intake number is 705-725-7656.

To learn more visit www.newpath.ca.

imcinroy@postmedia.com