Our Blog

24 August


With the end of summer approaching, that means it’s that time of year again: back-to-school.   Young people everywhere are enjoying the last few days of being in “summer mode” before it is back to pencils, books and tests again.

The beginning of a new school year brings excitement, friendships and challenges.  For some students it’s not all joy and excitement; it’s a time of stress, anxiety and worry.

Clinicians at St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre share their advice and tips on how to deal with back-to-school stress, nerves and anxiety.  We asked them: “What are your top tips to help young people deal with back-to-school stress?”

Their response was that school shouldn’t be all about stress, so don’t forget to pace yourself and have fun.  Looking after yourself can affect how you handle the workload.  Make sure you take breaks while studying when needed or when feeling overwhelmed.  Having a clear mind can help you concentrate and put your best foot forward.

If you find juggling life and school overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Learn about what services are available at your school to help you.  These are usually located at student services or at the student health centre.

We also asked the experts at St. Joe’s what resources are available if students find themselves feeling overwhelmed and stressed. They responded with many resources available around the Hamilton area. Check the list below:

Barrett Centre (Good Shepherd Crisis Centre)
Alternatives for Youth (Substance Use Counselling)
Youth Wellness Centre (in-house team for high school aged youth, or mobile team which comes to all Post-Secondary Schools in Hamilton)
McMaster Student Wellness Centre
Mohawk Counselling Services
Public Health/Nurses in schools/Sexual health clinics
High school ‘walk-in closets’ (for food and clothing needs)
Catholic Family Services
NGen Youth Centre
Hamilton Public Library
Your family doctor
Family & Friends

Whether you are entering your last year of high school or first year of post-secondary school, we know school can be stressful, scary and overwhelming.  There are many resources and people to reach out to. But please know that if those feelings take you away from your studies, #ReachOut to us and we can help! It’s never too early to #ReachOut.

28 July


Who are we?

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre (YWC) is a unique location and service that provides expert mental health and addiction care by appointment including counselling, support and navigation services for young people aged 17 to 25.

We believe it is never too early to #ReachOut . The Youth Wellness Centre is located in downtown Hamilton.

What do we do?

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre is a safe environment for young people aged 17 to 25 to receive expert care for mental health and addiction issues.  With the help of our youth mentors and medical physicians, our main goal is to make sure our clients feel welcomed and receive these services and needs without the fear of embarrassment or stigma.

What sets the YWC apart from other facilities is that young people are our focus. Our youth volunteers have an active role in how the centre operates.  Essentially, the YWC is for youth, by youth.  If you are a young person searching for help, you don’t need a doctor’s referral to come to us. We offer self referrals to make the centre very accessible to young people. To learn more about the referral process click here.

Our Team

In our video (below) introducing St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, you will meet a few of the professionals that help run our centre: Chelsea, Juliana and Lisa.
Chelsea Rothwell is a Youth Mentor. Her main priority is to represent the youth, making sure their needs are meet and voices are heard.

Juliana Tobon is our Psychologist. She assesses the clients in order to make sure they receive the best possible treatment for their needs.

Lisa Jeffs is the centre’s Program Manager. She ensures clients, families, staff, students and volunteers all feel valued, listened to and respected at the YWC.

How can you get involved?

With our social media campaign, #ReachOut, YWC is encouraging young people to leave their mark by adding their voice to help break down the barriers and end the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction.

Join us in encouraging young people to #ReachOut.

Follow us on Instagram: @reachouthamilton and Twitter: @ReachOutHam

Additional Resources: www.stjoes.ca/youthwellnesscentre

20 July


St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre sponsors Hamilton version of Be Safe, a free app launched for Apple and Android mobile devices on June 19th. The app aims to help youth manage mental health crises and to reach out to local mental health and addiction services.
Be Safe was originally developed by mindyourmind in London, Ontario, with the support of a dedicated team of youth, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Provincial System Support Program and other partners in the Systems Improvement through Service Collaboratives initiative. The success of the London-specific version of Be Safe sparked interest in other communities across the province, who partnered with mindyourmind to develop their own community-specific mental health and addiction resources listings. Be Safe is now available in 13 regions: Brant, Chapleau, Chatham-Kent, Durham, Great Sudbury, Haldimand-Norfolk, Hastings-Prince Edwards, Hamilton, London Middlesex, Manitoulin Island, Sarnia Lambton, Waterloo Wellington and Windsor Essex County, as well as Ontario-wide.

The Hamilton version of Be Safe was coordinated by CAMH’s Hamilton office with support from St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre. It guides youth through developing a personal safety plan for use in mental health crises and walks them through a series of questions.  The app provides a list of local Hamilton resources to reach out to including,  St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre, Alternatives for Youth, Crisis Outreach and Support Team, Living Rock and CONTACT Hamilton, just to name a few.

“In the middle of an upset or crisis it is hard to think clearly about what to do or who to call, but by using this app to plan ahead the guess work is cut out and help is only a few clicks away,” explains Lisa Jeffs, Manager, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre. “Youth in Hamilton will be able to use this app to customize a safety plan for themselves that will be there ready for them in times of crisis and point them to local Hamilton crisis resources so they know exactly who to reach out to when they need help.”

The app can be downloaded at www.mindyourmind.ca/be-safe


mind your mind SJHH YWC

 09 June



60% of people who live with mental illness or addiction do not seek or receive treatment.

Mental illness includes forms of depression, addiction and stress. Those suffering from mental illness are often hesitant to speak about or find help dealing with their issues. Why is this?

There is a common fear of negative feedback and backlash from friends, family and colleagues.  Those experiencing mental health issues may be concerned that the people around them will perceive them as “crazy”, unreliable, and not to be trusted.  These are a result of common misunderstandings about modern diagnoses and treatments for mental illness.

Many individuals attempt to battle these mental health issues in silence.  Let’s end this stigma and give a these people a voice. We need to support those experiencing mental illness so they can reach out for help.

Mental illnesses are much like any other illness.  Everyone deserves care, help, and support free of judgement.

St. Joseph’s Health Hamilton’s (SJHH) Youth Wellness Centre is doing exactly that, with an innovative approach, we are the first in the province to offer such a unique and supportive environment.  SJHH recently launched an anti-stigma initiative.  With this initiative we promise to create a setting free of stigma and discrimination against individuals experiencing mental illness and addiction.

Making the decision to seek out help

Kyle Park is a 23-year-old McMaster student who shared his experiences with depression at the opening of SJHH’s Youth Wellness Centre . Kyle shared that he believes his issues started in his pre-teens, he felt different, an outsider and had a fear of being lost.  During his high school years he felt physically and emotionally weighed down.

In his third year at McMaster University while on a student exchange, Kyle had a revelation about the way he was feeling:  “No one can help me but myself.”

Kyle sought help with therapy and found the support he needed.  Kyle says each day, he continues to work on himself and has found ways to live a better and happier life.

Kyle has some advice for those who may be dealing with their own uneasy feelings: “Figure it out, it’s normal. Don’t suppress it, it’s real, don’t deny it, confront it.”

Knowing the Facts

Stigma (or prejudice) describes a negative and unfavourable attitude.
Stigma causes those living with a mental illness to be labeled, stereotyped and feared.
Discrimination is the actions that result from stigma.
Many people living with mental health issues say the stigma of the disease is worse than the illness itself.
Seven million Canadians will need help for mental health problems this year alone.
Stigma is seen as one of the key barriers preventing people from seeking help.

Let’s put an end to this stigma and create an open environment for those living with mental illness to reach out for the help they need. Every single Canadian is affected by mental health issues – either by firsthand experience, or indirectly, through someone they know.

Join St. Joseph’s Health Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre in focusing on providing positive mental health support rather than perpetuating the stigma.

Do you or do you know someone who is dealing with a mental illness and is afraid to seek help?  Let us end the stigma together, #ReachOut for help. Contact us at http://reachouthamilton.ca/ for more information. It’s never too early to #ReachOut.


 05 May



On Thursday, May 5th St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton hosted a Youth Mental Health Summit bringing together over 200 high school students from the Catholic District School Board and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. The theme of the day was “Break down Stigma,” aligned with St. Joe’s commitment to breaking down barriers to mental health and addiction services and rejecting stigma.

Many St. Joe’s experts took part in the day by hosting workshops for students and teachers to learn more about mental health and addiction. Workshops included: learning about the importance of physical activity for mental wellness, exploring youth mental health supports that enable students to overcome barriers when returning to school and using transformational language that rejects stigma.

With the recent opening of St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre educating the younger generation about mental health and addiction is a priority. We want young people to know that it is never too early to #ReachOut. Students had the opportunity to take part in a #ReachOut art activity in order to raise awareness about St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre and encourage others to #ReachOut by drawing or writing inspiring messages of hope.

By raising awareness about St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre we want to encourage young people in Hamilton to #ReachOut and access services at the centre.

 01 MAY

Grow a beautiful mind. Artist: Katrina

Title: Grow a beautiful mind. Artist: Katrina


If you are being called “weird,” “odd” or “different,” just smile and say thank you.  Being all these things is okay and can be positive.  There is only one of you and no one else like you in this world, so why would you want to be like someone else?

If you’re not hurting anyone, do the things that make you happy, even if it’s different.

Many of us look up to and find inspiration from our favourite celebrities.  They serve as a reminder and of how our diversity or eccentricities can help us achieve our goals throughout life.

Below are a couple famous examples of young people who were called weird and odd but found strength and success from it.

Justin Timberlake
Justin entered the music scene in the late 90’s as a member of the boyband ‘NSYNC.  The group broke up after six years together.  However, Justin went on to launch a solo career with plenty of reward.  He is one of the top performers of his generation finding success as a singer, actor, writer and designer.

Check out his inspiring speech from the I Heart Radio Music Awards: https://youtu.be/rjXR7aEl888

Taylor Swift
Taking the country music world by storm in 2006 and crossing over to pop music in the last few years, Taylor Swift has become a world renowned figure in her profession.  She is an artist always declaring to be true to yourself and not allow others to get you down.  In the words of T-Swift, “…just Shake it Off…”

Click the link to view Taylor’s mom’s speech about Taylor’s road to success: https://youtu.be/iIDa-A8ZPH0

So stay DIFFERENT and just be YOU!!!

If you or someone you know feels alone and out of place, please know that you or they are not. It is never too early to #ReachOut to access care for mental health and addiction concerns.

08 APR

St. Joe's Youth Wellness Centre staff celebrating "Day in Pink" at Mohawk College.

St. Joe’s Youth Wellness Centre staff celebrating “Day in Pink” at Mohawk College.


Each year on the second Wednesday of April, The International Day of Pink is celebrated. This year on April 8th hundreds of students wore pink to stand up against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia, Transphobia and Transmisogyny.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre staff joined the diversity celebration at Mohawk College by partnering with Mohawk College’s Mental Health in Motion team to reject stigma and raise awareness about mental health.

Registered Nurse, Rina Matsumura and Youth Mentor, Hannah Arnold from the Youth Wellness Centre were there to spread the message to youth that they are not alone and that there is a safe place where young people in Hamilton can reach out to access care for emerging mental health and addiction concerns. “The goal of the Youth Wellness Centre is to improve the lives of young people who live with mental health and substance concerns in the Hamilton community,” shares Rina.

Young people told us that raising awareness for the new Centre required a new and different way of communicating – and as a result of their feedback and engagement, we have developed the #ReachOut campaign. We are asking people in the community to share what they think will happen when young people in #HamOnt #ReachOut by imagining it then drawing or writing it, and sharing on social media.