Ontario is expanding mental health services for children and youth. Here’s what this means for families.

Courtesy of: CDC/ Unsplash

Families could soon get much-needed mental health resources for their kids.

This week, the Ontario government announced its mental health service expansion dedicated to children and youth across the province.

This will come at a cost of $4.75 million in order to expand the “One Stop Talk” virtual walk-in counselling program, which aims to connect children, youth and their families with more ways to access mental health help, no matter where they live.

“Our government is making it easier and more convenient for children and youth in every corner of the province to access mental health care,” Sylvia Jones Minister of Health Sylvia Jones said in a news release on Wednesday.

 “This program offers modern, convenient options for youth to connect to help in ways that they’re used to communicating,” she added.


According to the government, the program will offer services by way of phone calls, video conferences, texts and chats to a clinician. 

No appointments are needed. 

The program first got its foot in the door as a pilot project in Nov. 2022 with six mental health organizations. Now, it will be expanded to even more organizations and anyone who is waitlisted.

Once it is fully off the ground, the program with be open to all children, youth and their families in Ontario. 


The math is simple, more income being spent on mental health support for young people by the government means less money coming out of families’ pockets.

And with inflation at a record high, families are already struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), one in five children and youth in Ontario suffers from a mental health challenge.

Mental health challenges are different for everyone, they can show up as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance use, or trauma. All these factors can have a major impact on someone’s day-to-day life.

Additionally, 70 per cent of mental health challenges take form early on in an individual’s life, which is why premature intervention is vital, according to CMHA.

Many families in Ontario have been outspoken about the various obstacles their children face, including but not limited to substance abuse, bullying, eating disorders and more.

“We recognize that more than ever before, many students face mental health challenges, which is why we are expanding access to care both in Ontario schools and across our communities,” Stephen Lecce, minister of education, said in a statement.
“By making it easier for children and youth to access mental health services through a ‘One Stop Talk’ service, our government is investing to increase access to care so that students are healthy and supported while they learn,” he added. 

Many online took the time to express their opinions following the announcement that dropped on  #BellLetsTalkDay.

They voiced that this isn’t as big of a milestone as it’s being portrayed since they believe there is a major gap in mental health services offered in schools.

“I’d [love] to see the mental health funding you speak of. I have students who wait months to see a school social worker [because] the wait lists are through the roof,” one Twitter user wrote.

“[Mental health] support—actual professionals in schools—are needed more than ever, but classes are huge, there aren’t enough EAs (Educational Assistants), and social workers are stretched between multiple schools. You don’t care about my kids or my students, and it shows,” said another.

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