Watching a young person struggle with their mental health is hard. Worrying about losing a child to suicide is terrifying.
As parents and grandparents, many of us have woken up to the fact that our young people are stressed out and hurting. Rates of anxiety, depression and suicide are high. One in five people will develop a mental illness in their lifetime, and most of these emerge between the ages of 16-24.
If you or someone you know have been in a situation where you had to try and find help for a young person, you might have been in for a bit of a shock: Turns out services for this demographic are scarce, difficult to navigate and frequently off-putting for young people. In fact, only about one in six young adults have access to appropriate care.
So what are parents to do when learning it might take six months for their child to see a psychiatrist, or two years to access a potentially life-saving DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) Program? And what if the cost associated with some of these interventions puts them out of reach for your child?
Enter Stella’s Place. Formed by a group of parents, young adults and healthcare professionals fed up with the status quo, Stella’s Place fills a gap for young people who are transitioning out of children’s services but are not served well by the adult system.
Young people need their peers, they need community and spaces where they feel safe. Safe to know they won’t be judged and will be accepted for who they are, safe to talk about their problems and to work on their recovery at their own pace and on their own terms. Without bureaucracy, institutional hierarchies, countless assessments and, importantly, without having to pay for any of it!
I am a staff member at Stella’s Place. I am also a parent who worries about my adult children every day. Both have given me some insight into why Stella’s Place works.
Stella’s Place works because it treats young adults as equal partners in every decision related to their health. We consider young adults to be the “experts”, and our clinicians “professionals.” It’s amazing what can be accomplished when older adults listen more and lecture less!
At Stella’s Place, young adults co-design the programs that are being offered and give feedback on how they are run. They see themselves represented in the staff who work here. They help design the physical space and create the language that is being used to make it safe. Every day I see young people come through the door tense or anxious, just to find them relaxed a little while later, put at ease and held by the collective support of the Stella’s Place community.
In the words of one peer, “Having people who held hope for me, until I was able to hold it for myself, was vital to me believing that recovery was possible.”
Stella’s Place is still small, serving approximately 1,500 young adults per year. But we are growing rapidly, and we have big dreams of scaling up and branching out. With more grassroots support from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and neighbours, we will be able to provide safe spaces for the tens of thousands more young people who are currently falling through the cracks. Support us now. This can’t wait!