'More kids coming to us': Pathstone sees increase in Lincoln youth visits

·2 min read

Youths as young as seven years old up to age 17 are coming in greater numbers to a local organization looking for help understanding depression and anxiety, and seeking coping strategies.

From March 30, 2022 to March 30, 2023, a total of 966 kids from the town of Lincoln visited Pathstone Mental Health, Niagara's provider of children's mental health treatment, to receive support through the organization’s programs, including walk-ins over the past year.

The updates provided in a presentation by Pathstone at April 17’s council meeting showed an increase in the number of patients.

According to Kim Rossi, director of fundraising and communications at Pathstone, 21 youths from Jordan, 96 from Vineland, 826 from Beamsville, and 23 from Lincoln sought their services.

“We had an influx of kids through the pandemic, and kids are affected by it,” Rossi said. “So there are more kids coming to us than they have been in the past.”

In the past year, 33 kids visited the Beamsville clinic located at the Fleming Centre library, and more than 1,300 kids accessed the other 10 walk-in clinics in the Niagara region.

A staff shortage due to pandemic burnout and staff going into retirement also contributed to a wait-list increase, explained Rossi.

Pathstone's walk-in clinic and its 24-7 support line are described as a “part of the solution” and help kids who are on the program’s wait-list for long-term care, which totals 34 on the current wait-list for the town of Lincoln. Reports say it can take up to 157 days or up to eight months for patients to get into Pathstone’s long-term program.

“The best path — it’s not to say we're not going to have any problems — but when we are presenting with an issue, not to let it sit and get worse and more complex, let's deal with it right away,” Rossi said. “That's what the walk-in clinic is there for. You just show up when you are ready to talk, you're seen, you're supported, and then you hopefully leave lighter than you were when you came in.”

Pathstone counts on private donors to continue to operate its clinics. “As long as we have those commitments (donations) from the community, whether it's the city or town council or a private donor, like in the case of the Town of Lincoln, we keep going,” Rossi said.

During COVID-19, explained Rossi, donations were down, but since they were operating virtually, they managed to save the funds. “Now we're starting to rebound. Last year was a really good year fundraising for us, but this year is a little bit slow.”

Pathstone has 10 in-person walk-in clinics across Niagara, open Monday through Friday and free of charge.

Beatriz Baleeiro, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News