Simcoe County program receives $666K in support for LGBTQ2 mental health

Pride rainbow crosswalk in downtown Barrie near the waterfront. Aug. 14, 2022. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

The Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services is getting over $666,000 in funding to support the mental health needs of the LGBTQ2 community.

On Friday, member of Parliament Leah Taylor Roy, on behalf of Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett, announced $666,054 in funding to the Gilbert Centre to support the mental health needs of queer, transgender and questioning youth in Simcoe County.

“As we recover from the pandemic, our government recognizes the importance of supporting the mental health and substance use needs of youth, particularly individuals from 2SLGBTQIA+ communities who already face disproportionate challenges to their mental health,” Bennett said.

“As we work to improve Canada’s universal health-care system, today’s funding will help the Gilbert Centre for Social and Support Services provide a safe, open space to reduce isolation and increase support for these communities.”

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The money will help the centre build upon the centre’s Queer, Trans Youth Connection Discord program.

The program provides a drop-in community space for queer, transgender and questioning youth ages 12 to 29 in Simcoe County, Ont.

The program aims to reduce social isolation and related mental health impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing youth with access to supportive spaces and activities to build resilience, as well as social support staff, peer support workers and outreach workers, through a virtual space.

The project will also help to educate community partners, such as the local school boards, as well as other partners, by offering introductory sessions on how to best support LGBTQ2 individuals.

“Virtual programming has given far greater access for connection to the Gilbert Centre for youth to get resources and also to build community,” said Jay Staats, family and youth program supervisor, at the Gilbert Centre.

“It is incredible to watch rural 2SLGBTQ+ youth connect to each other and service providers in the area, and know that they have a community all around them and can build a support network within that. The youth continue to impress us with their ability to advocate for their mental health needs and make use of the skills and tools when they are given them.”

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Friday’s investment builds on the government of Canada’s commitment made in February to dedicate $198.6 billion over 10 years to improve health-care services for Canadians.

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