Pathstone pops up at Pen Centre with trial mental health walk-in clinic – St. Catharines Standard

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It was supposed to be a pop-up storefront for its annual Project Plaid campaign — somewhere to sell hats, scarves and ornaments, while bringing awareness to suicide prevention and raising funds for Pathstone Mental Health programs.
But when the opportunity to do more presented itself, Kim Rossi said Pathstone immediately took advantage. Not only did the location at The Pen Centre have both retail space and two offices, for private counselling spaces, she noticed a large amount of students spending time at the mall.
“It’s overwhelming how many teenagers there are, so in thinking about our goal at Pathstone, which is to go to every corner of our community and to go to where the kids are, that’s where the kids are,” said Rossi, Pathstone’s director of fundraising and communications.
“It was a no-brainer for us.”
After creating a relationship and working with The Pen Centre on its Wellness Wall program, the pop-up walk-in clinic was launched — temporarily, for now.
From Nov. 1 to Dec. 9, Pathstone will open its walk-in clinic with free services available to any person under the age of 18 — no health card or referral needed.
While Pathstone does have a clinic at the Branscombe Centre in St. Catharines, Rossi said the mall location extends its regional reach, near a number of elementary and secondary schools, and accessible by car and public transportation.
Similar to other locations, its walk-in clinics also accepts pre-booked appointments.
Rossi expects the pop-up to be “overwhelmed by demand, which is a good thing.”
In recent months, kids have shown a greater desire to learn coping skills, which is why its walk-in clinic programs were established, said Rossi. When kids are in crisis, they’re “typically not coming to a walk-in clinic” and are calling the crisis line or going to the hospital.
The walk-in clinic is a place for kids to off-load a problem, hear a different perspective or figure out how to deal with issues stemming from social media or bullying. Sometimes, they just need an ear to bounce things off of and “that’s what we’re here for,” said Rossi.
“It’s so kids would have the tools they need to regulate and cope and if we can provide those skills to them in a session or two at the walk-in clinic, then we’re accomplishing our mission,” she said. “We know solving a minor or short-term mental health issue prevents long-term issues. It’s like a paper-cut versus a gash.”
Manager Michelle Schleimer said the mall recognized the increased need for mental health, and thought the walk-in clinic would be a “great opportunity,” especially in a location where, outside school, the mall is the “next place you would see more kids gather to shop and hang out with their friends.”
“The pop-up clinic will provide a private place where kids can go and, knowing it is a place where they frequent, it may provide teens with comfort knowing there are resources right at their finger tips,” said Schleimer, in an email.
The hope, from both sides, is the partnership will continue beyond December.
“If this is wildly successful, as in we get a lot of attention for this clinic, we will look to see about extending our time there permanently,” said Rossi.
The fourth annual Project Plaid campaign launches Tuesday and will extend through November. The campaign was started by the family of Amelia Durocher, a St. Catharines woman who died by suicide when she was 18, in February 2019.
The monthlong drive, named for Amelia’s favourite pattern, will sell toques, scarves, stickers and more at the Pen Centre pop-up shop, online or at Meridian Credit Union locations.
Last year, organizers had a goal to raise $30,000, but collected close to $120,000 for Pathstone, which works with children and their families.
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