Connecting youth with mental health services in their communities

With a mission to improve the wellbeing of Canadians, Medavie, through the Medavie Foundation focuses its community giving on addressing some of the most pressing health challenges facing Canadians. One of these focus areas is increasing access to youth mental health services so young people are able to get the help they need, when they need it.

We partner with organizations and initiatives that deliver community-based, youth-friendly counselling and therapy services by accredited mental health care professionals.

Two of these partners are highlighted below.

First Episode Mood & Anxiety Program

The London Health Sciences Centre operates the First Episode Mood & Anxiety Program (FEMAP) from two converted buildings within London, Ontario’s neighbourhoods. FEMAP is designed specifically to provide treatment to older teens and young adults 16 – 25 years of age. The evidence-based program is offered at no cost and does not require a doctor’s referral.

Steve*, a FEMAP Client, describes having mood swings, being filled with doubt about themself and others, and wondering if they’d be able to find the help they needed.

My struggle with mental health was disrupting my life, affecting school as well as my personal relationships. Finally, the therapists at FEMAP helped me begin to take control of my thoughts. They provided me with mindfulness techniques and other self-care strategies to help me stay focused and able to better manage how I processed events which might otherwise have triggered my anxiety. These new coping strategies have helped me enjoy life again.”

Since 2020, the number of young people like Steve* seeking help from FEMAP has increased by more than 100%. In response, FEMAP opened a second location in London, Ontario with the support of funders including Medavie, through the Medavie Foundation. This second location has allowed the program to double its team of mental health care professionals.

FEMAP promotes barrier-free services, meaning treatment comes at no cost to patients, nor does it require a doctor’s referral. If you live in the London area, learn more about accessing FEMAP on their website.

Atlantic Wellness Community Centre

Atlantic Wellness Community Centre serves youth in southeastern New Brunswick and provides free services to develop effective and positive coping strategies for youth struggling with a variety of mental health challenges and stressors. Counselling is offered through scheduled individual therapy (telehealth or in person), a mental health clinic, group therapy, parent therapy, outreach therapy, and they also engage in wrap-around support including connecting clients with other services as well as mental health education and advocacy in the community.

Leah*, a client of Atlantic Wellness recalls struggling with insecurities and sadness that would spiral into a depressive episode until she reached out to a school counselor who connected her with Atlantic Wellness to get the help and support she needed.

“Atlantic Wellness helped me by giving a safe place to talk to someone who was able to provide the support I needed, without any judgement."

Since starting in 2012, Atlantic Wellness has grown to helping more than 350 young a year with access to a team of therapists. Of the youth who have sought their treatment, 77% reported they would have “gone nowhere” or “gone to the hospital” if its services were not available. The centre plans to add two bilingual therapists over the next year so that more youth can benefit from its services.

Anyone 16 years or older may self-refer to Atlantic Wellness.

To find mental health resources in your community, visit Crisis Services Canada.

*We have changed the real names of Steve and Leah to protect their privacy.

Our Mission is to Improve the Wellbeing of Canadians.

Medavie is a health company that oversees Medavie Blue Cross and Medavie Health Services. Together, we’re bringing Canadians better health and access to care.