Donor Support Allows Expansion of Child & Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic

November 12, 2021

The Child & Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) is currently in its fourth year of providing essential mental health services to the Humber community.

The Clinic helps patients who do not require inpatient care but do need additional support – this is usually through access to a psychiatrist within two weeks of their ED visit. After an initial 90-minute evaluation with the psychiatrist, patients are offered up to five subsequent appointments to stabilize them and help determine their needs. The goal is to connect them with community resources for further support. Patients are connected with community-based mental health resources and where appropriate, they can also be integrated into a program like Humber’s very own Transition Day Program.

We recently sat down with Samantha, a social worker in the UCC, and learned about how they pivoted during the pandemic, the importance of the Clinic in the community and the life-changing difference this donor-funded initiative is making in the lives of children and youth, like Tatiana.*

Samantha, a Social Worker at the UCC said, “Humber’s team in the Urgent Care Clinic can help youth and families navigate the crisis, connect them with resources in the community, and build on the opportunity for positive change.”

How has COVID-19 impacted the program?

“With the onset of the pandemic and closures to many in-person services in the Hospital, the team quickly pivoted to offer services online where we could.  We continued to see patients in person when virtual wasn’t appropriate, while maintaining safety for everyone involved.

It was challenging when we were doing so many virtual appointments. Kids are tired of looking at screens all the time. When appointments were in person, it provided an opportunity for structure. The process of getting up, getting dressed and coming to Humber was good for their mental health.

Now that vaccination rates are increasing, we can see more patients in person again which is great.”

Why is the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic important to the community?

“Imagine you’re a young person in a mental health crisis, or a family member seeing your loved one going through a crisis. It’s very disorienting and it can be hard to understand what’s happening or what to do about it.

While it can be difficult, it also represents an opportunity for change and can be the catalyst for something positive. During a crisis, loved ones often rally around the individual and ask for help. That’s where our team comes in.

Humber’s team in the Urgent Care Clinic can help youth and families navigate the crisis, connect them with resources in the community, and build on the opportunity for positive change.”

Tell me about Tatiana* and your role in her care.

“I always tell my patients that I’m here to give you the tools to help you fix the problem. Imagine that you want to build something new for your home. I’m not the handyman, I’m the hardware store. I’ll provide the tools, materials and advice you need, but I won’t go home and build it for you.

In Tatiana’s case, she was 10 years old when she sought help through an online mental health service. Eventually her mother brought Tatiana to the Apotex Emergency Department at Humber. From here, the UCC clinicians spoke with her and found that she was struggling with anxiety and depression.

Tatiana saw a lot of conflict between her parents, and witnessed her father’s drug abuse before his death. With her peers, Tatiana struggled to make and keep friends.

I was involved in Tatiana’s assessment and provided support for her and her mother. Our goal was to create more safety for her and to figure out the underlying issues that made her feel bad.

Tatiana received therapy to help her and her mother identify and express emotions and be more aware about techniques to manage anxiety and depression. We also helped to connect her with longer-term private therapy, and grief counselling. Her family doctor will play a role in monitoring her medication after her discharge from the UCC.”

How have donors made a difference in the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic?

“The Urgent Care Clinic is generously funded by donors and it’s because of our donors that families and children are able to access mental health services at times of crisis. I’ve seen kids completely change their trajectories after being with us. Without the support of our donors, none of this would be possible!”

* Name has been changed to Tatiana for the comfort of the patient and family.

If you would like to make a donation to the Mental Health and Addictions Program, please click here.