Finding Mental Health Refuge at Stella’s Place
Depression and anxiety have followed me for years. I have learned how to manage them, but the duo creep in the shadows for myself and many others. As I get older, it has become increasingly difficult to meet new people and seek help. For youth and young adults, it can be hard to find help and like-minded souls amidst hectic schedules. A little centre in Toronto offers an answer to these woes. Stella’s Place, located at 18 Camden Street in the heart of downtown near Spadina Avenue and Adelaide Street West, provides resources and programs for teenagers and young adults with mental health challenges.
I discovered Stella’s Place through a friend and decided to give them a call. The impetus for this was the ongoing social anxiety I felt while engaging in networking and navigating parties or large groups. I walked into a bright, welcoming centre. People aged 16 to 29 were free to relax near the entrance and use the free Wi-Fi. I met with an intake counsellor who devoted an entire hour to assessing my needs. From there, I was placed in a social anxiety group that has allowed me to have frank discussions about the condition, learn ways to cope with it, and meet new people with whom I can relate.
Those looking to try out Stella’s Place without a commitment can take advantage of various drop-in services throughout the week. The café space is an ideal starting point. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, youth are welcome to have a warm drink, do some work, or meet new people. Evenings offer a chance for you to address a specific issue. You can job search with others on Tuesday evenings. On Wednesday evenings, you can see the walk-in doctor or engage in the arts-based Stella’s Studio.
Stella’s Place is well-equipped to help with more serious mental health concerns. Peer support counsellors are trained via George Brown College and with the consultation of medical experts. Their policy is that no teenager or young adult seeking help will be turned away. There are intakes required for groups with limited spaces, such as the one for therapeutic support and skills related to social anxiety that I attend. There are also exercise classes conducted in conjunction with the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and group devoted to Dialectical Behavioural Therapy skills. Many participants are from Toronto, but parents have driven their children in from as far as Durham and Hamilton. They seek help for mood disorders, mental health crises, health inquiries, and the need to meet like-minded and non-judgmental people.
The social anxiety group and café space have brought me great comfort and allowed me to meet wonderful people. As an introverted and socially anxious writer living in the big city, I can often feel isolated and unsure of how to fix that. This little building downtown has been a beacon of light and a respite from my struggles. Thanks to Stella’s Place, I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time.
Cheung, Michelle. “Stella’s Place, Toronto mental health centre, founded by concerned mom.” CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/stellas-place-1.3770999
Stella’s Place. http://stellasplace.ca/