New online addictions resource launched to support youth across Southwestern Ontario
Crossing Bridges is a free, virtual safe space for youth aged 12-24 with an addictions concern.
(Thames Valley/Huron-Perth, April 12, 2023) – Youth in Southwestern Ontario who may be experiencing an addictions concern now have a free, virtual safe space to turn to for help.
Crossing Bridges (www.crossingbridges.ca) is available to support youth aged 12-24 who think they may be experiencing a substance use addiction or behavioural addiction. A partnership between Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) branches Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services and Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health Services, Crossing Bridges was created to reduce barriers for young people seeking support and services.
At CrossingBridges.ca, youth can connect virtually with an addictions counsellor, get information about substance use and behavioural addictions, and find addictions services and supports. The online platform was co-designed by young people as a means to better serve youth across Southwestern Ontario.
“The approach to counselling at Crossing Bridges is strengths-based, trauma-informed, and person-centred,” said CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services Regional Director of London, North Middlesex, and Huron Pam Hill. “It seeks to create a safe space for all youth where they can reflect on and process their thoughts and feelings without judgment.”
The team of addictions counsellors are registered social workers or social service workers with a specialization in working with young people. Youth are connected with an addictions counsellor based on their needs, fit and counsellor availability. Counsellors will customize a support plan based on each individual’s goals.
“When young people begin to experience problematic substance use or a behavioural addiction, they may not seek help out of fear of judgment or consequence,” said CMHA Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health Services CEO Catherine Hardman. “With the support of youth and community partners, Crossing Bridges was developed to meet young people at their level, on their terms. By providing support in a way that works for them, we hope more youth will be empowered to seek support when they need it.”
Support is available for any type of addiction at Crossing Bridges, such as substance use, gambling, gaming, sex, Internet/social media, etc. Counselling is available in English and French.
“Crossing Bridges is an innovative and responsive service, offering a valuable and much needed space for youth to connect to non-judgemental addiction support,” said Thames Valley District School Board Manager of Student Mental Health Lucas Andersen. “The work being done with Crossing Bridges is an important step in the direction of safe, destigmatizing, and accessible care for youth impacted by addiction.”
Crossing Bridges is an innovative approach at engaging youth who might be in the contemplative stage of change; providing a non-judgmental space for youth to gain immediate access to resources, information and support for substance use,” said Youth Opportunities Unlimited Director of Employment and Housing Services Katherine Krakowski. “As an agency that supports youth residing in London and Middlesex County – it is vitally important to have virtual resources like Crossing Bridges that are tailored to a youth demographic. We will incorporate this resource into the information we share with individuals who access our service, including supporting youth to navigate the site and make that first connection.”
Crossing Bridges does not provide immediate, crisis support. It is for information purposes and self-referral to virtual counselling only. To learn more, visit CrossingBridges.ca.
About the Canadian Mental Health Association, Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services:
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services is an integrated mental health and addiction agency providing community-based supports and services to individuals 12 and up across Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford Counties. The continuum of services includes crisis intervention and virtual supports, mobile crisis teams, police partnerships, case management, counselling, community wellness programs for both individuals and their families, housing supports and addiction medicine services.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health Services:
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Huron Perth Addiction and Mental Health Services is a local mental health and addictions agency which provides a variety of services, including addiction counselling for youth and adults, mental health case management, peer support, court support, counselling for problem gambling/behavioural change, supportive housing, community withdrawal management and more. Our goal is to provide quality services and easier access for those impacted by mental health and/or addiction issues in the communities across Huron and Perth.