New research into the issues facing youth in Thunder Bay, Ontario has found that racism, discrimination, isolation due to transportation issues, and lack of mental health supports are among the issues.
The Wellesley Institute in Toronto presented preliminary results of its Supports for Success project at a community feedback session at the West Thunder Community Center on Wednesday.
The aim of the project is to improve the outcomes of marginalized youth in areas such as education and socio-economic status.
Another problem identified by the researchers is that some service providers are working in silos when they should be working together to get young people to the right services, said Bonnie Krysowaty, the project’s community engagement manager.
“So ‘organization A’ can have a great program, and ‘organization B’ can also have a great program, but they don’t know each other’s programs and therefore cannot direct people to them. good programs, ”she said.
Focus groups, interviews and consultations
Agencies work together through roundtables, such as the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, Krysowaty added, but none focus specifically on young people.
The researchers gathered their information through focus groups with young people, parents and caregivers, interviews with service providers and consultations with expert researchers, she said.
There are still a few discussion groups to come.
They also scanned social media to see what types of support already exist for young people in the city, from the prenatal phase to the start of their careers.
Things that work well include youth hubs such as Evergreen: A United Neighborhood, Krysowaty said.
Among the things the city lacks is mental health supports, she added.
Mental health supports needed
“If it is two in the morning and a young person has a mental health crisis, the only option for them is to go to the hospital emergency room,” Krysowaty said. “There are waiting lists for young people who need mental health support.
Physical isolation is also a problem, she added.
“Transportation can be a barrier for many people – the ability to walk between bus stops, for example, the cost of the bus,” she added. “If you’re new to the city, it’s hard to navigate, especially on a bus.”
While solutions to some of the problems identified in the research can be both expensive and time consuming, Krysowaty said improving communication between organizations is a good place to start.
“We have [got] a lot of people and a lot of organizations and agencies that have a lot of funding power and power to change policies and create new policies, ”she said. “If we work together on this, we can be more successful.
Thunder Bay, one of four research sites
The Wellesley Institute is an organization dedicated to improving health and health equity in the Greater Toronto Area by acting on the social determinants of health, such as income and social supports.
Supports for Success is a partnership with the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health and the Center for Citizenship and Community at UCLan (University of Central Lancashire) in the UK.
The project focuses on four sites that the institute believes represent a representative sample of Ontario: Thunder Bay, Kingston, Brant and Scarborough.