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Stella's Place Blog

We need more Stella’s Place!

by | Apr 28, 2020

Tribute to Chester Bennington of American Rock band Linkin Park where fan wrote RIP Chester in white tribute board

“If I didn’t have Stella’s Place, I don’t think I’d be here right now,” says Samantha, a bright, vivacious events coordinator in her mid-twenties.

 

Samantha is a member of the Young Adult Council (YAC) at Stella’s Place. After completing an intense program of DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) in 2018, she wanted to stay connected to Stella’s Place and give back to the organization she credits with saving her life.

Her mother, Lisa, is equally complimentary: “When she started at Stella’s Place, things turned around,” says Lisa, “I feel like I’ve got my daughter back!” For both of them, the struggle has been decades long, intense and painful.

“There need to be more Stella’s Places,” says Lisa who started looking for help for Samantha when she was five years old, a process that left her feeling guilty, isolated, and struggling with depression. “Until you live it yourself people just don’t understand!” 

It is difficult to overstate the social, economic and emotional cost of untreated mental health challenges. From prolonged family stress, low education completion levels and under-employment, to repeated emergency care and long-term engagement with the health system.

It is equally difficult to understand why community-based mental healthcare and proven, evidence-based therapies like DBT are not more readily available for the young people who need them now. Here is how Samantha’s life turned around after completing a 12-week DBT program at Stella’s Place:

DBT skills are always useful and especially now that the coronavirus pandemic has many young people struggling with increased levels of anxiety and depression.

“I have definitely noticed an increase in distressed participants, more specifically, participants dealing with suicidal ideations or hopelessness,” reports Anmol, a peer supporter at Stella’s Place.

She is trained in DBT and frequently shares skills with participants during their counselling sessions. TIPP stands for temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing, and paired muscle relaxation. “I share this because this gives participants a lot of options when making themselves a distress plan. All of these skills mentioned above, I use myself, and I love sharing with participants how I use them or when I use them so they don’t feel alone,” explains Anmol.

Like most Ontario organizations and businesses, we too have had to stop our face-to face in-house programming but we rapidly switched to phone, text and video support to continue to deliver all the services that help our young adults to improve and maintain good mental health. All of our platforms are security and privacy compliant and our participants have responded with remarkable resilience and flexibility.

As one participant expressed during a one-on-one phone session with Anmol, “I feel hope when I talk to you since we share lived experience and I am now more in control of life.”

Since the lockdown under COVID-19 started seven weeks ago, Stella’s Place has seen a 300 percent increase in demand for our secure mobile chat application, BeanBagChat. We responded by greatly expanding service hours and hiring more staff to provide chat support. We are able to support young people remotely during this crisis because of our experience and comfort level with innovative technology. Demand for our clinical and counselling services has also seen a substantial increase and we are now providing services on four different platforms.

With your help and the extraordinary matching gift from the Aubrey & Marla Dan Foundation we can meet the need now and beyond the immediate crisis of COVID-19. Let’s help our young people with generosity and care!

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