The Haliburton County Youth Wellness Hub experienced a 226 per cent jump in the number of young people accessing it last year, those attending Point in Time’s AGM heard June 21.

Board chair Sandy Adams said the “dramatic increase” saw 656 youth served in 2021-22.

Point in Time also offers a high school drop-in clinic with a trained mental health worker three days a week during the school year. Reasons cited for visiting the clinic included anxiety, peer relationships, depression, academics and family conflict.

Executive director Marg Cox said in the past year, the hub formed new partnerships, faced the challenges of COVID-19, and developed a full team.

Cox said she thought a number of factors impacted the increase.

“These include the isolation youth have experienced during the pandemic and the opportunity to be together again in person is such a draw. Whether it is to participate in a tournament, engage in art or other fun activities. It is developmentally appropriate and essential for youth to be with other youth to flourish.”

She added a partnership with Haliburton Highlands Secondary School to cost share a late bus has also helped. Haliburton Highlands Health Service has helped with vans and volunteer drives.

She noted the pandemic has been hard on youth and they have seen increased need for mental health, substance use, primary care and peer worker support. She said their team has been continuing to provide in-person outreach in various communities which also increases access to youth hub staff and services.

Cox noted the hub is doing Indigenous teachings, dialectical behaviour therapy (that helps people learn and use new skills and strategies so they build lives they feel are worth living), song writing, Kinark outdoor activity days, mindfulness martial arts, virtual peer support, a scavenger hunt and alternate reality/secret society games.

Adams, who will now be past-president, congratulated staff for its “continued outreach, ability to adapt and excellent programming and services.” She went on to thank partners for their continued support and assistance in making improvements at the hub.

High job satisfaction

Adams discussed staffing shortages, and added one creative fix was hiring Anne Leavens from Peterborough Youth Services part-time as clinical supervisor for the entire agency.

She noted they had recruited four new staff in the last year. She said job satisfaction had improved thanks to more flexible models of working, team coverage and hybrid models of staffing.

Adams said the agency continues to use technology and infrastructure to reach clients in-person, by phone or video appointments.

Other focuses, Adams noted, have been on diversity, equity and inclusion. Staff and board have been trained on trauma-informed service, anti-oppression and diversity. There has also been education on Indigenous awareness. Recently, they’ve added racial equity. They have a Confederation College student, Ashly Wilson, an Indigenous peer navigator.

Adams also lauded the board for its work.

The agency served 1,268 children and youth in 2021-22. In addition to the youth hub, major numbers included 258 children receiving service from early intervention and 224 children and families receiving counselling.

Cox, honoured for serving 15 years, singled out a number of staff for thanks. They included Dr. Feldman who provided pediatric services for 30 children. Cathy Constantino is retiring after 12 years. Dawn Hurd and Lisa Hamilton have put in 20 years; Amanda Wells and Joelle Hill 10 years and Kelsey Sharpless and Lindsay Kerkhof five years.

“On one end of the spectrum, we help support people with treatment, with recreation, with other services and it feels like another part of our job is to try and help build community because we know so much about the importance of belonging,” Cox said.

Also at the meeting, the agency received a clean audit and Susan MacInnes was appointed board president.