Walk-in mental health services will soon become available for Fort Erie’s youngest residents.
At Monday night’s council meeting, Town councillors approved a $20,000 grant for Pathstone Mental Health to set up a new clinic that will operate one day a week out of the Bridges Community Health Centre.
The Hear and Now walk-in clinic will be available for youths ages six to 17 that may be experiencing feelings of sadness, worry or anger, having fights with parents, being bullied, dealing with a personal issue, thoughts of self-harm and getting into trouble at school, home, or in the community.
Parents and caregivers can also use the walk-in clinic for children under the age of six if they are concerned about child-related ages and stages, are constantly arguing with their child, or may be worried about their child’s social and emotional challenges.
Joanne Ferraccioli, the Town’s Community Health Care Services Coordinator, said the clinic is good news for Fort Erie’s youth because there is “a huge gap” in services for mental health for children and teens.
“The fact that youth don’t need a referral, they don’t need a health card and there’s no cost to them will make a big difference. They can just walk in.”
Ferraccioli said the clinic is expected to open by late Spring or early Summer, and will offer a full day of service each week that will also include evening hours.
She is unsure of just how many people will access the services at this point, but she expects the clinic to “be very busy.”
“(Pathstone) did a pilot in St. Catharines that was very well received by a lot of youth. We’ll be working with the schools and we will work with health care providers in town and see how it goes.”
She said there’s also a possibility of expanding the service in the future, depending on the demand for more services in Fort Erie.
According to Ferraccioli, more information about the clinic and its official opening day will be made available to the public “very soon.”
A staff report said the clinic will be accessible and will have multiple rooms to “ensure patient and family confidentiality.”
The staff report also stated Town staff will work with Pathstone Mental Health to collect data “looking at decreased wait times for assessment and lowered rates of suicide and suicidal ideation with this clinic.”
The report said the data that is collected will help ensure other sources of funding are secured for sustainability.
Commenting on the report, Mayor Wayne Redekop said the clinic is “a good start” and the data collected will play an important role in determining the types of services needed in Fort Erie.
“(The clinic) certainly is a needed service,” he added.
The funds to pay for the grant for Pathstone Mental Health will come from the Town’s Community Health and Wellness Reserve.