Summer sessions for student mental-health program offer consistent care

'We wanted to provide an opportunity for kids to access mental-health services when things weren’t as structured for them,' said Jayelee Grady. Photo Credit: Travis Kingdon/CBC

Health PEI says aim is to fill summertime gap in mental-health care for youth

By: Sean Patrick Young, courtesy of CBC News, published July 5. 2019

The expansion of a mental-health program aims to help students and their families through the summer months.

The student well-being mental health walk-in clinics run by Health PEI launched this week in schools and clinics on P.E.I.

The program is a continuation of mental-health services beyond the end of the school year, giving students and their families access year-round.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for kids to access mental-health services when things weren’t as structured for them,” said Jayelee Grady, program manager for youth mental health and addictions at Health PEI.

Keeping the consistency of the school setting, even in summer, is an important aspect of the program, said Grady.

“Schools are easy access for kids,” she said. “They’re generally considered safe spaces for a lot of kids and families.”

The clinics aren’t just for students. They’re also for family members wanting to understand more about a school-aged relative’s mental health.

The student well-being teams are at Bluefield High School in Hampshire, Hernewood Intermediate School in O’Leary, St. Jean Elementary in Charlottetown and Community Mental Health in Souris and Montague.

The visits are free, and no appointments needed. 

People can simply walk in, ask for an appointment and staff will do what they can to offer an hour-long session.

Grady hopes the program fills a gap in the mental-health system. These kinds of walk-in clinics have been offered to people 16 and older in the past, but not often for youth and children.

“We certainly hope people take advantage of this opportunity, and reach out if they need to,” Grady said.

Chris Noseworthy is a mental-health clinician with the program. He’s been stationed at Bluefield High School since September.

Noseworthy thinks the consistency of having the same social workers and nurses at the school throughout the year makes students feel more comfortable going to them for help.

“Students get to see our faces and become familiar,” said Noseworthy. “So that kind of lessens the stigma around speaking to a mental-health professional.”

People interested in going to a walk-in clinic can visit the Health PEI website for weekly times.