Some local groups are cashing in on provincial funding to support mental health programs for children and youth.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls says the government is providing over $31 million to help improve access to specialized mental health treatment services, reduce waitlists and wait times, and support the mental health and wellbeing of children and youth by addressing the increased demand for services during COVID-19.

Locally, Chatham-Kent Children’s Services will be receiving $133,800 and Family Service Kent will be getting $6,200 for a total of $140,000.

“The recent funding announcement from the Government of Ontario is welcome news. It demonstrates a commitment to fulfill a campaign promise to continuously work to address the demand for mental health supports for children, youth and families,” says Teri Thomas-Vanos, Executive Director of Chatham-Kent Children Services. “This investment will allow for increased capacity to respond to the needs in our community. Access to services should never be a barrier for children and youth achieving their full potential. The pandemic has resulted in very challenging times for everyone, and wellness has been impacted on many levels.”

Across Ontario, the government has pledged $2.1 million in annualized funding to support a new Virtual Walk-in Counselling Program which provide children, youth and families across the province with virtual counselling with a clinician via telephone, video conferencing, text or chat. Another $2 million is aimed at a new program to help children and youth who require additional one-on-one intensive treatment to transition in or out of specialized, live-in treatment programs, secure crisis units, and/or hospital.

“As mental health becomes even more prominent in our society, talking about it and giving proper support is vital for the well-being of all Ontarians,” Nicholls says. “I am happy to see our government investing money into proper mental health programs that will significantly benefit all, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.”