One-stop shop for youth mental health opens

Elizabeth Mallett stops in to The Grove Hub in Palmerston every single day, because the return to school this fall hasn’t been easy.

“Being away from people for so long and finally being with them again, there’s more anxiety and social pressures. So, being able to have these conversations with people that are going through the same thing is really great,” says the 18-year-old Palmerston teen.

Mallett is amongst a group of teens taking advantage of The Grove Hub-Palmerston. It's a new youth centre that’s serving as a one-stop shop for youth mental health services.

It’s one of seven such Grove Hubs, opening in Guelph and across Wellington County, that has brought the services of over 30 community agencies under one roof.

Melanie Therrien is a Youth and Wellness co-ordinator at the Palmerston location.

“They come here, they hang out, they drop-in. That’s how we gain that trust, then they can reach out for different mental health services or other services like addiction counselling, help with interviews or resumes, tutoring, pretty much anything,” she says.

The focus of these integrated hubs is to bring all supports for youth aged 12 to 26 under one roof, at a time when they have never needed help more.

“Prior to the pandemic the statistic was one in five youth experiencing mental health illnesses or challenges. That has increased substantially to four in five. That’s a big jump,” says Jessica Martin, Youth and Wellness co-ordinator with The Grove Hub-Palmerston.

By that math, over 115,000 of the nearly 150,000 youth in Wellington-Guelph are in need of some help with their mental health.

“It’s been a rough couple years for everyone stuck at home. It’s kind of nice to have that adjustment to come here, play games, meet new people and just have a safe place,” says Mallett, a fifth-year student at nearby Norwell Secondary School in Palmerston.

“I think online school and being stuck at home definitely took a toll on my social skills. So, getting back into things has been difficult, but I think a place like this starts to make it a little bit better,” says University of Guelph student Abby Drew.

“We’re a one stop shop for them to let us know what they’re struggling with and we’ll find the resources to bring to the Hub so they don’t have to travel,” explains Therrien.

You can learn more about Wellington County’s The Grove Hubs by visiting www.thegrovehubs.ca.