NEWS: YWHO and Verto Health Partner to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Youth Across Ontario

Media Release from Verto Health

March 15, 2023 (Toronto, ON) – Announced today, Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) and Verto Health are partnering to improve access to high quality Integrated Youth Services (IYS) for youth aged 12-25 years across Ontario. Together, YWHO and Verto Health will co-design and launch a unified digital YWHO front door and client portal, which will provide a range of developmentally and culturally appropriate Integrated Youth Services for youth and their families.

The YWHO Virtual platform will be a web-based platform that provides young people, safe, secure, and timely access to mental health and substance use services, as well as other primary care, community, and social support services. The goal is to improve access to YWHO’s Integrated Youth Services for young people in Ontario, for whom in-person hub services are not an option, including youth who currently do not have a youth wellness hub nearby, or youth who would rather receive services online.

Read the full media release on Verto’s website here. 


NEWS: New Hub Opening: Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub Opens Online Services Today

Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario and East Toronto Health Partners launch virtual services at new Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub

Integrated Youth Services (IYS) model offers low-barrier health and substance use services for youth and young adults in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park

Written by East Toronto Health Partners


March 13, 2023 (Toronto, ON) – Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) and East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, have launched the Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub.

The hub is a new, welcoming space that will provide easily accessible walk-in services for youth and young adults aged 12 to 25 living in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park. These services are low-barrier and offer clear service pathways related to mental health, substance use, primary care, employment, housing and other support services.

Virtual services launch at the Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub today (March 13, 2023) and are accessible through Information about the site is also available at

Youth and young adults do not need a health card, family doctor or medical referral to access the services.

In-person services will launch this spring when construction is complete at the Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub’s physical site at 45 Overlea Blvd – a bright, welcoming and accessible space in the heart of Thorncliffe Park that’s designed in collaboration with local youth and families to meet their needs.

Advancing health equity for youth and families

The Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub aims to support youth and young adults in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park, two neighbourhoods that are home to some of the highest concentrations of individuals under the age of 25 in Toronto.

These neighbourhoods are home to many newcomers, and carry significant stigma related to mental health and substance use. Here, young people have low access to mental health and substance use services despite high levels of need.

The Youth Wellness Hub will help advance health equity in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park, where many families face socioeconomic challenges, including unemployment and limited access to public services, and higher levels of marginalization, which may lead to poor health outcomes.

This new virtual support space and a future physical hub will help alleviate pressures across the health system, including in hospital emergency departments, by providing more accessibility to care, reducing wait times and connecting youth a full range of services that are close to home.

Virtual services open to everyone aged 12 to 25

Virtual services are now available at the Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub by appointment through Appointments are open to everyone aged 12 to 25.

Virtual services include:

  • Mental health counselling: Staff, including counsellors, mental health workers and therapists, are available to talk to youth about stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, gender identity and more. No topics are off limits.
  • Harm reduction counselling: Counsellors are available to talk to youth about their substance use, harm reduction goals or any concerns related to drugs and alcohol.
  • Case management: A healthcare worker helps guide and connect youth to different services during their health and wellness journey. They create individualized treatment plans that help youth reach their wellness goals, advocate for youth and monitor their progress.
  • Peer support: Peer support workers offer youth support for a health concern, such as a mental health challenge, that they have also lived through. Because they share similar experiences, peer support workers are able to help youth by providing knowledge, emotional support and more.
  • Care navigation: Care coordinators connect youth to different services in the community. This helps ensure youth are able to get the care they need when they need it.
  • Employment services: Staff help youth find and secure job opportunities. In particular, our employment and trades programs help youth who face barriers to work, such as language and technological barriers.

These services will also be available in-person when the Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub’s physical space opens in spring 2023.

Additional services will be available with the opening of the physical site. These include primary care and sexual health services; psychiatric consultations; a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills group; food, housing and settlement supports; and drop-in, groups and special events.

Designed in collaboration with local youth

The Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub joins YWHO’s existing network of 22 hubs that serve over 30 communities across Ontario.

YWHO announced funding from the Government of Ontario for the Thorncliffe Park site in May 2022, along with seven other locations that will serve different communities in the province.

The Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub follows YWHO’s Integrated Youth Services (IYS) model of care, which aims to bring the right services to youth (and their families) at the right time and in the right place.

The following ETHP member organizations provide virtual services at the hub and support with youth outreach and engagement. They will also provide in-person services once the physical space launches.

  • Flemingdon Health Centre
  • Garry Hurvitz Centre for Community Mental Health at SickKids
  • Health Access Thorncliffe Park
  • LOFT Community Services
  • Michael Garron Hospital
  • Strides Toronto
  • TNO – The Neighbourhood Organization

Local youth contribute to the Thorncliffe Park Youth Wellness Hub by advising on what programs are needed, how programs should be delivered, how youth should be engaged and more. This helps ensure the site’s space and services are designed by and for youth.

About Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO)

Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO) is a network of 22 local hubs that provide integrated services co-designed with youth for youth in communities across the province. Originally funded through philanthropy and by the Ontario government in 2017, YWHO was established to address gaps in the youth mental health system by providing integrated youth services for young people aged 12-25, addressing needs related to mental health, substance use, primary care, education, employment, housing, peer support, outreach, system navigation, and other community and social programming. Through a commitment to rapid and low-barrier access, early and evidence-based interventions, equitable and culturally effective services, and youth collaboration, YWHO is taking a critical step forward to improve Ontario’s youth mental health system. To learn more about Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario, visit or @YWHOntario on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP)

East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team (OHT) serving East Toronto, is a group of more than 100 community, primary care, home care, hospital and social services organizations in East Toronto working together to create an integrated system of care across our communities. Collectively, ETHP is responsible for providing care and support to the 300,000 individuals who live in East Toronto communities, as well as an additional 75,000 clients who choose to receive health care in the local area. Clients, family members and caregivers are partners in every aspect of the development of ETHP, working together to improve the way East Toronto residents access and receive care. Visit to learn more.

Youth Substance Use Resources for Educators

Having conversations about substance use with students and providing support to students experiencing substance use and/or mental health challenges is a reality for many working in education. Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO), School Mental Health Ontario (SMH-ON), and the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) team at CAMH have developed resources to summarize and illustrate the insights and recommendations from youth to support educators in this area.

Included in these resources are findings from the 2021 OSDUHS, which is a population survey of Ontario students in grades 7 through 12 that is conducted every two years. A total of 2,225 students in grades 7 to 12 from 122 schools in 31 school boards participated in the 2021 cycle of the OSDUHS.

Resource 1: Substance Use and School: Opportunities to Support Students – A guide for educators and school system leaders about youth substance use

The purpose of this guide is to support educators and school system leaders in their knowledge about substance use and supports available for students. This resource also offers recommendations for action and considerations for working across student, school and community levels.

Resource 1 English Resource 1 French

Resource 2: Substance Use and School: What Youth Want Educators to Know – A resource for school and system leaders and educators about youth substance use and available resources

This resource provides an overview of experiences with substance use and substance use education that members of the Youth Reference Group shared over a series of seven meetings. It also provides practical recommendations and information for those working with students and supporting substance use education in schools.

Resource 2 English Resource 2 French

A Letter from Dr. Jo Henderson: Reflecting on YWHO in 2022

I wanted to reflect as we wrap up 2022 – an incredible year of growth and evolution for Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario. Recognizing that we are still in our infancy with lots of plans in place for 2023, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the milestones and the success of YWHO teams from this year.

The year started off with a lot of questions, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was spreading quickly and service providers across YWHO youth hubs were still pivoting to provide safe mental health support to young people. Despite these ongoing obstacles of the pandemic, 2022 has been very positive for the YWHO initiative overall.

As a “network of networks”, we’ve grown from 14 to 22 local YWHO networks thanks to additional funding from the Ontario government to launch eight new networks. Now, YWHO will be providing integrated youth services to over 30 communities across the province. In addition, some of our hubs that pushed back their launches due to the pandemic officially opened their doors to youth and families, including Timmins, Renfrew County, Windsor-Essex, and more.

In terms of support, YWHO introduced more developmentally and culturally responsive programming for young people. We launched new and improved programs, trainings, engagement opportunities, grants, data implementation methods, and more. As a learning health system (LHS), this evidence- and measurement-based work supported our continuous efforts to improve services for youth.

Nationally, there were huge strides in the pan-Canadian space alongside significant announcements that will transform our country’s youth mental health sector. From launching the Federation of Integrated Youth Services (FIYSN) to a funding announcement in November from Minister Bennett to support IYS-Net and data initiatives, there is momentum heading into 2023.

None of this incredible work to support young people would be possible without the ongoing support and commitment of youth, families, service providers, communities leaders and organizations, YWHO networks and staff, and our government and philanthropic partners.. Together, we are creating a movement that is transforming the youth mental health sector in Canada and saving lives now and in the future.

Thank you for all your support this year. We look forward to continuing this work together in 2023.

Thank you.

Dr. Jo Henderson
Executive Director of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario
Director of Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth & Family Mental Health
Senior Scientist, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Announcement: Minister Carolyn Bennett held funding announcement for Integrated Youth Services (IYS)

On Monday, November 28th, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and and Associate Minister of Health, visited the new West Toronto Youth Hub to announce up to $18 million in funding for projects related to integrated mental health and substance use services for youth.

Minister Bennett was joined by Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Dr. Jo Henderson, Executive Director of YWHO and Director of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Dr. Samuel Weiss, Scientific Director of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and two youth with lived experience – Kester and Devon.

Announcement Details:

As part of this investment, CIHR is investing $1 million to establish a pan-Canadian “network of networks” known as the Integrated Youth Services Network of Networks (IYS-Net). An additional $15+ million will be provided by CIHR and philanthropic partners to expand IYS-Net across the country. Health Canada is also providing nearly $2 million in funding to CAMH to work with IYS-Net and other partners to develop an Integrated Youth Services National Data Framework and Infrastructure.

“Young people have always faced challenges as they deal with the changes in their lives. Over the past years, their mental health and substance use challenges have been exacerbated by the stresses and social disruption of the pandemic. Integrated Youth Services is a proven model that can lead to improved health outcomes. By supporting IYS-Net in its objective to bring together diverse services and perspectives from youth, care providers, partners, researchers, and people with lived and living experience will we ensure that all youth have the opportunity to receive the integrated care that they need to thrive, grow, and succeed.” –  The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

IYS-Net will be a collaborative effort between the Government of Canada, partners and researchers across provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities to help youth access the services they need. The initiative will create a network of learning health systems through which research evidence, data, and youths’ lived experience are used to inform processes, policies, and practices to improve health equity and service delivery.

The goal of the IYS National Data Framework and Infrastructure project is to collect consistent data across provincial IYS networks. This investment will establish common measures, evaluation frameworks, governance, and digital platform infrastructure. This work will contribute to improved understanding of youth service needs and outcomes, help build and test new services, and help services pivot more effectively when crises arise. The investment will also aid in the shaping of future IYS programs, including services designed specifically to meet the needs of marginalized youth.

“Youth and their families deserve access to high quality services that are co-designed with youth and families, and lead to positive and equitable outcomes for youth throughout Canada. IYS-Net will allow us to develop new and inclusive approaches to support youth effectively. The partnerships across government and philanthropy that have made these investments possible demonstrate a shared recognition of the critical importance of supporting youth to succeed and thrive. Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario is grateful for the vision of these partners and their commitment to youth and families.” – Dr. Jo Henderson, Executive Director, YWHO, and Director, CAMH’s Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health

To read the full news release, click here.

To read the background, click here.

For more information:

YWHO Communications 

YWHO Celebrates Opening of Timmins Youth Wellness Hub

On November 15, 2022, the YWHO Network celebrated the grand opening of their new permanent Timmins Youth Wellness Hub space located at 45 Spruce Street South in Downtown Timmins.

Previously offering services in a rotational model, the new “Hub Headquarters” will allow the team serve youth and families in the Timmins region with a full range of integrated youth services.

“The Hub is amazing, and all of the staff and participants are kind, helpful, and welcoming” said Elise, a youth participant, about her experience attending the Hub.

The new Timmins Youth Wellness Hub (TYWH) Hub Headquarters is a safe, inclusive and welcoming space for all youth aged 12 to 25 to access mental health, addictions and well-being services, resources and support. As part of the YWHO network, the aim is to bring the right services to youth and their families, at the right time and in the right place.

The grand opening event on November 15th was a success, and included a performance from a local Indigenous drum group (the Home Fire Singers), a ribbon cutting, and tours of the space. The event was open to local youth, families, TYWH service partners, and community members as an opportunity to learn more about this new space dedicated to their well-being.

“This is a momentous day… Thank you to our Community Partners, who are the wind beneath our wings; to the youth who we are so honoured to work alongside every day and who continue to inspire us; to our staff team, who are on my gratitude list every day; and to YWHO who is the jet fuel under the wind beneath our wings. This is a reflection of this amazing community that has come together,” said Anne Vincent, Executive Director and Hub Manager of the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub.

Established in September 2018, the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub has been a huge support to Timmins with their “pop-up hubs” rotating through spaces in the community. Youth have had low-barrier access to mental health support, substance use programs, primary care, education and employment support, recreational and skills and well-being programs, peer support and care navigation services – all free of charge and accessible for all.

To read the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub media release, click here.

To listen to a CBC radio segment about the Hub, click here.

The hub operates 30+ hours a week for both appointment-based and walk-in access to services and programming. Check out their social media channels for more information.

To contact the Timmins Youth Wellness Hub:

Learn more about the hub here:

Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex Launches Fundraising Campaign and Announces $1M Gift

Tuesday, November 8, 2022 – Windsor, ON

The Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex team officially launched their $5 million fundraising campaign on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, and announced their first gift – a $1 million lead gift from the Solcz Family Foundation.

The purpose of the fundraising campaign is to support the build of the permanent Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex site. This is now closer to reality thanks to the generosity and support of the Windsor-Essex community.

The new 10,000 square foot youth-friendly space will be located at 215 Eugenie Ave., and will offer integrated mental health and substance use services for youth aged 12 to 25. The team will also provide primary health care, employment and housing supports, and recreational and educational activities.


Operational funding has been provided by the Ontario government. This fundraising campaign will help bring the Youth Wellness Hub to life by further supporting the creation of a youth-friendly environment, programming, and the development of satellite sites in Essex County.

“The Solcz Family Foundation is proud to support Windsor’s first Youth Wellness Hub—a space that is safe and barrier-free, providing our local youth with a multitude of services all under one roof in a warm and welcoming space designed for youth by youth,” says Kyrsten Solcz of the Solcz Family Foundation.

“We hope our community will join us by supporting this wonderful cause to help bring the right services to our youth at the right time and in the right place.”

Kim Willis, Director of Communications and Mental Health Promotion, CMHW-WECB, notes that more funds will need to be raised and that community support is vital.

“We are most grateful to the Solcz family for their amazing support and generosity. The Youth Wellness Hub is a game-changer for our community and something that youth and families have wanted for several years. In recognition of their support this location will be known as the Solcz Family Foundation site,” Willis says.

She added that the reality is our youth are struggling. At the Youth Wellness Hub, there is immediate support available through walk-in support services available and no referral. The Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex opened a temporary location at Maryvale in March 2022. Since then, 213 youth have visited the location almost 1,000 times. The new site will improve services and the experience for those accessing services.

Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex has been supported in various ways by many community partners, including the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Maryvale, Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, New Beginnings, The Inn of Windsor, the United Way, and more. Willis says the hope is more businesses, individuals and organizations will get involved, and all donations will receive a charitable tax receipt.

Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex Partners

For more information:

Youth Wellness Hub Windsor-Essex
Kim Willis, Director of Communications and Mental Health Promotion, CMHW-WECB
(226) 787-2245
(519) 255-9940 x161

Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario Provincial Office
Stephanie La Brie, Senior Communications Advisor 

YWHO Celebrates Grand Opening of Renfrew County Youth Wellness Hub

On October 21, 2022, the YWHO Network celebrated the grand opening of the Renfrew County Youth Wellness Hub.

The hub serves the entire County of Renfrew and offers a full range of integrated youth services to young people aged 12 to 25 years old and their families or support individuals.

The grand opening was full of activities, including hub tours, a ribbon cutting ceremony, snacks, music, and more. The event was open to all local youth, families, and community members as an opportunity to learn more about this new space dedicated to their well-being.

The Renfrew County Youth Wellness Hub will offer mental health support, help with substance use, primary care, educational, employment, and other social services. The hub will also provide recreational and skills and well-being programs, peer support and care navigation services – all free of charge and accessible for all.

“I feel so fortunate that so many people came out to join our celebration. I am beyond words to express how grateful I am to be able to work with the youth and families in this area that are so deserving of such a wonderful new service,” said Sarah Haaima, Hub Manager of Renfrew County Youth Wellness Hub.


The hub operates Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. at 278 Nelson Street in Pembroke, Ontario. Youth can access support through appointments, virtual services, or walk-in appointments as needed.

To contact the Hub:

Learn more about the hub here:

NEWS: Launch of first-ever Canadian youth mental health platform will transform research and treatments

October 06, 2022 – Reposted from Brain Canada

A pioneering youth mental health project will enhance Canada’s overall understanding of youth mental health needs and advance new assessment and treatment approaches.

Each year, one out of every four youth in Canada needs mental health services, making an initiative such as this urgent and critical for the well-being of our young people.

The “Canadian Youth Mental Health Insight (CYMHI) Platform” powered by RBC Future Launchwill use open data, machine learning and other methods to improve communication between youth and families, researchers, clinicians and other service providers with diverse mental health experiences and specializations.

Read the full announcement from Brain Canada and CAMH (Centre for Addictions and Mental Health) here. 

Continuing our Commitment towards Truth and Reconciliation

Last year, Canada held the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Now, September 30th marks an annual recognition of the painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools in Canada, honouring the children whose lives were lost and the legacy of survivors, and creating a space for everyone to engage in meaningful conversations and continued learning, healing and action.

YWHO recognizes that our Network of hubs is situated on lands across Ontario that have been occupied by diverse Indigenous groups for millennia; lands rich in civilizations with knowledge of medicine, architecture, technology, and extensive trade routes throughout the Americas. We are committed to honoring the lands and healing traditions of Indigenous people and working collaboratively to integrate them into our models of care and services for Indigenous youth.

YWHO and all of the local teams across the province are committed to helping advance truth and reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals.

We welcome all Indigenous youth, caregivers and family members who need support in various areas, offering culturally relevant programming co-developed with Indigenous advisories, youth and families. In addition, local hubs collaborate with other local Indigenous organizations to offer culturally appropriate activities, workshops and specialized care. Some great examples of these programs can be seen at our Kenora, North Simcoe, and Timmins hubs.

To ensure that the services and supports provided meet the needs of Indigenous youth and families, we work closely with our Provincial Indigenous Youth and Family Advisory Circle (PIYFAC). This advisory circle is consulted when developing YWHO programs and processes, and plays an important role providing guidance and recommendations to Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario to improve services and care for Indigenous youth and their families.

Today is also known as Orange Shirt Day. We wear orange to raise awareness on the intergenerational impacts of residential schools on individuals, families and communities. The orange shirt also symbolizes the concept “every child matters”. It originated from Phyllis Webstad, who shared her story in 2013. recounting her first day of residential schooling at six years old, when she was stripped of her clothes, including the new orange shirt her grandmother bought her, which was never returned. With the support of the Indigenous grass-root movement Orange Shirt Society, the orange shirt symbolizes the fact that several generations of Indigenous children have had their identity and culture stripped away from them.

We are honoured to work with and support Indigenous communities across Ontario.

We also acknowledge that reconciliation is an ongoing effort and commitment. Supporting Indigenous youth and providing culturally safe care requires significant resources, collaboration and reflection. YWHO still has work to do to demonstrate this commitment. We will continue to work to increase supports at the local and provincial level, establish and maintain respectful and reciprocal relationships, and provide opportunities for Indigenous youth, families and Elders.


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