This is the story of a youth struggling with mental health issues and the law, who has recently moved past the age of eligibility for youth services.

Gary, a young man with dreams, has benefited from a Youth Mental Health Worker program offering him consistent psychosocial support. Unfortunately, at 19, he is at risk of losing his support because he is now an adult, as there are fewer resources available to him through transitional-aged mental health services.

In 2016, Gary was referred for help following a serious allegation involving assault and a firearm. He also incurred a charge for a serious robbery. With a referral from his mental health worker, Gary benefited from a psychiatric assessment, revealing symptoms of PTSD and anxiety. He also was experiencing learning disabilities that were discovered through a psychoeducational assessment conducted by the school board when he was in primary school.

Being able to access the support of a specialized youth mental health program has helped Gary understand the significant trauma that he’s experienced in his life and come to recognize how it affects his current functioning. He has been referred to a youth justice outreach counsellor who provides him with individualized support while he awaits resolution of his criminal charges.

Since receiving help, it has been more than two years since Gary has incurred a serious charge, and over one year since he has not been charged at all. Throughout the past year, he has adhered to strict bail conditions, which have exacerbated mental health issues that have been lifelong challenges for him. Fortunately, with the support of the mental health worker, he recently returned to school and applied for ODSP. He is focused on completing his high school credits in the near term and would like to work in sanitation or as a youth corrections officer in the long term. He is contemplating going to college, and could succeed in doing so, should he so choose, with the proper supports.

Gary has worked diligently to overcome his life challenges, expressing each time he has benefitted from the support of a mental health worker. We share this story because of the concern that this young man may struggle without the supports that have been instrumental in the positive changes he’s made. By investing and developing transitional-aged mental health services for young adults, we assure that a person like Gary is able to dream, learn skills, overcome challenges and live successes as an adult.


* Photo by Yiran Ding on Unsplash*