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Osler’s New Mental Health Program Offers Life-Changing & Life-Saving Care for Youth

The Adolescent Intensive Day (AID) Program at Osler is a ground-breaking initiative aimed at providing specialized care to youth in Peel Region who are struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts. This program, a first for the region, addresses the pressing need for mental health services among adolescents, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was made possible with funding from the Peter Gilgan Foundation’s annual Tour de Bleu fundraiser, which raised $5.65 million to support specialized mental health care at Osler.

With over 28,000 adolescents in Ontario on waitlists for mental health care, the program’s goal is to reduce wait times, prevent repeat visits, and offer timely, life-changing treatment. Osler, serving 1.3 million people in Brampton, Etobicoke, and surrounding regions, has earned recognition for its mental health and addiction services. The new AID Program is an addition to Osler’s existing programs, such as the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Clinic, Transitional Aged Youth Clinic, Inpatient and Outpatient Mental Health & Addictions Services for Adults, and Eating Disorders Clinic.

The current phase of the program is based at Brampton Civic and involves one-on-one support for patients and families, focusing on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to transition from maladaptive coping mechanisms to healthier alternatives. Stabilizing the patient’s mood and keeping them safe is key during this phase, and families are involved at every step, to promote the patient’s ongoing progress.

The ultimate vision is a full-day program incorporating academic support, group sessions, and comprehensive care, delivered in purpose-built space in the new Peel Memorial, when it is transformed into Brampton’s second hospital. The program’s unique approach includes involving families in parallel education, ensuring a unified strategy for patients and their support systems.

Importantly, the program aims to reach beyond Osler’s current patient base by collaborating with community partners, such as the Peel District School Board and others, to extend support to adolescents in need beyond the hospital’s immediate reach.

“Investing in the intersection of mental health and education is not just a choice, but a lifeline for those balancing the delicate dance of healing and learning. By integrating support through the AID Program, we are unlocking doors for individuals to navigate both simultaneously, ensuring that the pursuit of education does not waver in the face of mental health challenges,” said Joshua Zurba, Mental Health Therapist, Osler. “In doing so, we unlock doors for countless students who might otherwise be sidelined, ensuring that every student’s mental health journey and educational aspirations harmoniously coexist.”

As the program evolves, its holistic approach and commitment to addressing the unique challenges faced by adolescents set it apart, promising a brighter future for youth close to home.

With files from Osler Foundation – reference: https://oslerfoundation.org/aid-program/

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