Scarborough Health Network (SHN) Foundation is tremendously grateful to be among 19 organizations, including national charities, Greater Toronto Area hospitals, and community service providers, that received a donation from the Slaight Family Foundation’s latest $26.5M commitment to youth mental health initiatives.

SHN will receive an incredible $1.5M to create the Slaight Family Foundation Mental Health Program, in partnership with Strides Toronto, to support Scarborough adolescents and young adults who present with suicidal and self-harm behaviours.

The Toronto Raptors visit with SHN Child and Adolescent Mental Health patients in January 2023 in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at SHN’s Centenary Hospital.

“At Scarborough Health Network, referrals to our Child and Adolescent Mental Health program doubled over the course of 2022, leading to increased wait times,” says Megan Cameron, Manager of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. “This support will allow us, along with our partner, Strides Toronto, to take proactive steps to address the needs of youth in our community. With the Slaight Family’s support, we will create a ‘stepped’ care approach for at-risk Scarborough adolescents that will include Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, providing easier access to life-saving mental health treatment and support for our most vulnerable youth.”

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) has proven to be effective in helping people who experience intense emotions, chronic depression, intense anxiety, impulsive behaviours, and other forms of mental health conditions that put them at risk for self-harm and/or suicidal behaviours.

Over the last fiscal year, 44% of the admissions to the Child and Adolescent unit at SHN were due to self-harm and suicidal behaviours.

Thanks to the Slaight Family Foundation, SHN and Strides Toronto will work to change this statistic.

“Funding for mental health initiatives doesn’t just improve lives; it strengthens our entire social fabric,” said Gary Slaight, President and CEO, The Slaight Family Foundation. “One of the issues we heard loud and clear was the disconnect between youth discharged from hospitals and the continued community support or services available to them. Investing in these connecting services and programs is an investment in the well-being and future of our youth. We consider this support a fundamental step towards breaking down barriers and creating a more equitable, accessible healthcare system.”

SHN is grateful for the ongoing support of the Slaight Family Foundation, and for being part of a Canada-wide effort to prevent youth from falling through the cracks.