Barrie Wellness Fair raises awareness on youth mental health support

The first Wellness Fair took place in Barrie in honour of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Saturday's fair in Barrie was organized by local police and the Barrie Public Library.

Visitors were able to learn about local support while partaking in activities and listening to music.

Twenty-nine vendors gathered at Meridian Place to offer education.

Special Constable Shannon Calladine says that there is a need for mental health services for young people.

"What we wanted to do was to get as many community agencies and organizations together as possible to show our community what resources are available and make them more accessible," Calladine says.

Currently, there are 28,000 people waitlisted in Ontario to receive access to youth mental health services.

Tatum Wilson, CEO of Children's Mental Health Ontario, says the number of those looking to receive care is backlogged due to staffing shortages.

"Imagine being a parent and having a child who is clearly showing some need and having to be told you have to wait 900 days," Wilson says.

Barrie police have developed a new program to implement in schools and are waiting on approval to move forward.

"We had a soft launch this January, and the preliminary results show that it's quite successful," Calladine says.

Barrie police say they plan on hosting additional wellness events in the future.

More information on youth resources can be found here.