Taking Charge of Mental Health at Stella’s Place
Prevention and Treatment Young adults in the program are given the opportunity to codevelop the programs and provide feedback after every activity or session to bolster a sense of community.
Five years ago, young people in Toronto facing mental health issues often found themselves too young for the adult system and too old for children’s services.
Now Stella’s Place fills that gap. Approximately 100,000 Torontonians between the ages of 16-29 have mental health needs of some kind. Only about one in six have access to appropriate care — a particular challenge for marginalized young people. Stella’s Place estimates it will serve 1,000 young adults this year.
It offers peer support, integrated clinician and peer-led groups, drop-in sessions, wellness and fitness classes, expressive arts, and an app called Beanbag Chat, along with traditional counselling and intake free of charge.
Better together at Stella’s Place
The truly innovative aspect of Stella’s Place is its unique co-design and feedback structure. Young adults in the program are given the opportunity to codevelop the programs and provide feedback after every activity or session to bolster a sense of community, reciprocity, and understanding within a peer support network.
“There aren’t enough traditional professionals to support everyone. The way forward is through building the capacity of young people to make a contribution themselves,” says Executive Director Jenny Carver.
This co-design strategy has been integral since the beginning of Stella’s Place, when an intense focus group-style of collaboration was formed with 50 young adults, family members, and experts. Stella’s Place has a start-up feel, Carver says. Programs are evidence-based but there is flexibility within their delivery. Young people can share experiences with people their age, access services without countless assessments, and are supported to set goals and make choices that are right for them.
Stella’s has even created an original Peer Support Training Program in partnership with George Brown College, which has now graduated 150 participants.
Clients may have suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression, or psychosis but the message at Stella’s Place is one of resilience. “We really believe in the capability of this generation to turn what’s seen as a difficult experience into a source of strength,” says Carver.
To learn more about programs and services offered at Stella’s Place, visit stellasplace.ca.