‘What’s up walk-in’ mental health clinic offers help fast

“One in five young people have a mental health problem that needs help,” Myra Levy says.

But, the clinical services director for East Metro Youth Services (EMYS) adds, “about one out of six of them are able to access services” due to long wait lists in the city.

To help ease the backlog for teens looking for help, the new “what’s up walk-in” clinic opened its doors on Nov. 1.

Instead of waiting three to six months for counselling, teens can now get immediate service five days a week with no appointment needed at the EMYS-run clinic at 1200 Markham Rd. in Scarborough.

“It’s a more immediate response,” Levy said.

The Ministry of Child and Youth Services, she said, has acknowledged that there are long wait lists — from six months to a year — across the province for young people to receive help.

The speed of service at the what’s up walk-in will help prevent small problems from becoming bigger ones, said EMYS clinical services supervisor David O’Brien.

With this model, you can serve many, many more people

— Myra Levy

“Teens can just walk in and get service,” he said.

Levy agreed, saying a walk-in provides a more “direct attack on the issue” rather than waiting months while a problem gets worse.

The Ministry of Child and Youth Services provided $150,000 in funding which went toward hiring two extra staff to target long wait lists, Levy said.

Each counselling session, which is from 60- to 90-minutes long, is “solution focused”, Levy said. Counsellors aim to help young people problem solve and lessen some of their stress in one session, though those that need more time are welcome to come back, she said.

“It’s a model of treatment that’s not based on longevity,” Levy said. “With this model, you can serve many, many more people.”

The new clinic is an exciting thing, O’Brien said, since there is generally a demand for the sorts of services it offers, particularly in Scarborough.

“As an agency we really think that this is a very interesting model for treatment,” Levy said.

“We’re very excited about this.”