July 24, 2024

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‘Seal some of the cracks’: Mental health, addictions hub to be built in Newmarket

4 min read

‘Together, we can truly solve and support better crisis care in our community,’ says CMHA CEO as province announces it will issue a call for proposals this summer for construction of much-needed hub

Newmarket’s Jim Eliopoulos said he knows the importance of quality mental health services.

Eliopoulos recounted the tragic tale of his son, Jake, a talented baseball product drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. But Elipoulos said while his son managed with ADHD and Tourette syndrome growing up, he fell into a deep depression after leaving home for university. 

The family helped him receive treatments, including a stay at Southlake Regional Health Centre. But the father said after four attempts, his son finally died by suicide in 2013. 

Going through that is why Eliopoulos said he is glad to see a new mental health and addictions hub on its way to Newmarket. He said he has seen tremendous positive change in mental health efforts since the time his son’s suffering began.

The Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe “and its partners are helping to seal some of the cracks in our mental health system, so we can provide better hope, relief and outcomes,” Eliopoulos said.

The mental health crisis and addictions hub has been in the works for years but is taking a significant new step. The Ontario government announced Wednesday morning that after years of planning, it will issue a call for proposals this summer to award a construction contract for the new hub.

CMHA confirmed the hub will be situated at 17255 Yonge St., across the road from the York Region Administrative Centre.

The hub aims to be a one-stop service for those seeking mental health and addiction support by providing access to all services under one roof. Health-care providers will partner to connect people experiencing a mental-health crisis with care in the right place, as opposed to overburdened hospital emergency departments. The hub will co-ordinate for police and paramedic services dropoffs, as well as referrals from primary care and outside walk-ins. 

CMHA York Region South Simcoe has been the lead agency behind the project. chief executive officer Rebecca Shields said the agency has worked on the initiative since at least 2016, gathering data and going through the ministry processes alongside partners to make the hub happen.

She said the new hub will be client and family-centred.

“I am beyond excited about today’s announcement,” Shields said. “Together, we can truly solve and support better crisis care in our community.”

Dignitaries gathered July 3 at York Region’s Administrative Centre for the announcement. Minister of Health Sylvia Jones said the provincial government is committed to supporting mental health.

The project “is a great example of how government is working hand in hand with community and health-care partners to make it easier for people to connect to world-class mental health and addictions support,” Jones said. 

Newmarket Mayor John Taylor recounted a story highlighting the need for the hub. He said in his first year as mayor, a neighbour knocked at his back door, looking for help after seeing something in a nearby forested area. Taylor said he went to check and saw a man hanging from a tree, dead by suicide.

“That obviously affects you and really hits home for me as mayor. You can’t stop meeting that need. You can’t stop moving forward,” Taylor said, adding there are many similar stories out there. “The fact of the matter is this facility will save lives.”

Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy said ever since she heard of the idea years ago, it is something she has advocated for progressing.

“We know we have our challenge and we know we need to ensure our residents have easy access to our health-care system, that is easy to understand and transparent,” she said.

The province initially announced $200,000 in funding for the planning of the hub in December 2020. No new funds were announced with a request for proposals process still to come, but Shields confirmed the hub construction will be a provincial project. 

Asked about why it took as long as it did to get to this stage, Jones said, “There were some challenges along the way, but the most important thing is we had committed partners, always there willing to work with us.”

The province did not provide an estimated timeline for completion of the facility, only when the call for proposals will go out.

Shields said they will work through the due diligence process at all levels, “ensuring that we meet all levels of government’s requirements to get us ready to have it open and the site ready.”



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