Windsor's Youth Wellness Hub finds permanent home to provide mental health services

A rendering of Windsor's Youth Mental Health Hub shows what the reception and entrance area will look like.  (Submitted by Baird AE Inc.  - image credit)
A rendering of Windsor's Youth Mental Health Hub shows what the reception and entrance area will look like. (Submitted by Baird AE Inc. - image credit)

When Shayne Postma needed support to cope with his drug addiction, he was told he'd have to wait three months to get help.

"I overdosed and I ended up going to jail and all this other stuff. There was no connection in those three months. I wasn't able to talk with a counsellor," said Postma, who recalled dealing with addiction at 16 years old.

"To get help within those three months was very limited."

It's part of the reason why he's on the committee for Windsor's Youth Wellness Hub, run by the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County Branch (CMHA-WECB).

On Tuesday, CMHA-WECB announced that a permanent location for the hub has been secured. The space at 215 Eugenie St. is currently undergoing renovations, but is expected to be open by spring of next year.

Sonja Grbevski, CEO of the CMHA-WECB, said the facility will help "bridge any gaps in the system [and bring people] closer to getting that care and [get it] immediately for all youth that need us."

"The hallmark of this program is that the doors are open."

The hub, temporarily located at 3640 Wells Ave., was funded by the provincial government last year. It promises rapid access to mental health services for youth between the ages of 12 and 25. The program doesn't require a referral and doesn't have wait times.

WATCH: Shayne Postma shares his experience with addiction

The province has committed $650,000 annually to Windsor's hub, which is one of 14 across the province.

Since March, when the hub first opened its doors, it has serviced 312 youth.

"The needs have never been greater. Our youth are struggling. Anxiety, depression, stress, addictions, eating disorders, the list goes on. All of this was rampant before the pandemic and we know that two plus years of isolation haven't done any of us any favours," said CMHA-WECB director of communications Kim Willis during Tuesday's announcement.

Jennifer La Grassa/CBC
Jennifer La Grassa/CBC

To provide more specialized mental health and addiction services, pay rent and create more satellite supports in Essex County, the CMHA-WECB is looking to raise $5 million. So far, it has received $2 million in donations from the community — half of that is from the Solcz Family Foundation.

"The more operation dollars we can have the more we can provide those specialized services," said Grbevski.

Renderings of the permanent space on Eugenie Street show that the hub will include a yoga/meditation room, an arts and crafts space, a teaching kitchen and a study room.

The space is one that Postma is confident will spare others the challenges he encountered. It's one he wished he and his friends had access to.

"I lost a lot of friends [to addiction]," he said.

"I know that they would have benefited from something like this if this was in place many years ago."