Providing Toronto Youth Free Access to Mental and Sexual Healthcare
For the youth of West Toronto, access to mental and sexual healthcare just got much easier. The Edgewest Clinic, located at 1900 Davenport Road, recently announced they will begin offering free treatment for sexual and mental health care, and they will do so without requiring appointments or health cards.

The Edgewest Clinic has partnered with Planned Parenthood Toronto to offer their drop in services to “teens and twenty-somethings, 12 hours a week.” Youth between the ages of 13 and 29 that live in the Davenport-Junction-Kingsway area are eligible for a numbers of drop-in services, ranging from “low-cost birth control, testing for pregnancy and STDs, anonymous HIV testing, mental health care, and [individual] addiction care.”

Access to group therapy and group addiction care is also planned for the near future, and, in addition, the clinic regularly performs a number of general practitioner services, including checkups, immunizations, and treatment of coughs or colds.

An Underserved Sector

According to the respective executive directors of the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre and Planned Parenthood Toronto, Kim Fraser and Sarah Hobbs-Blyth, “Toronto’s west end is particularly lacking in youth health services.”

The directors expressed their concerns in a joint email: “Research…indicated that youth in the area were experiencing higher incidents of sexually transmitted infections, higher pregnancy and birth rates as compared to youth in the city of Toronto [as a whole].”

Young people in the region have historically used emergency rooms to get treatments for problems that would be better handled in clinics, continued the directors. And this underserved community is one of the reasons that the two organizations came together to open the Edgewest Clinic in 2014.

Expanding Youth Health Services Nationwide

If you ask many of Canada’s leading mental health advocates, the need to expand youth health services isn’t limited to West Toronto alone. According to reports from the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), “1.2 million children and youth suffer from some form of mental illness, and that suicide is the leading non-accidental cause of death in Canadians aged 15 to 24.”

As stated in a 2013 op-ed penned by former MHCC board chair and former senator Michael Kirby, “Canada is afflicted by a two-tiered mental health system, in which long wait periods for free care and the high cost of private care combine to bar many young Canadians from timely treatment.”

In efforts to combat the apparent lack of mental and sexual healthcare for Canadian youth, the Edgewest Clinic provides drop-in health services on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 8 pm, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

When initially developing the Edgewest program, staff surveyed in excess of 300 local youth to determine the specific services they would target, as well as the optimal hours for providing free, drop-in service. As the directors have explained, “It is extremely important for youth to have access to services that are specific to their needs in a non-judgmental, supportive, inclusive, youth-positive environment.”

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Posted by: DSR
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Tag: Healthcare
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