It is increasingly clear that Edmonton is in urgent need for additional 24/7 crisis intervention centres in community associated with agency service hubs and trauma-based mental health clinics. Currently, YESS is the only organization offering this service. Because the need is so great and the strategy is so compelling, we have leaned in to creating the first site to demonstrate and evaluate the coordinated intake and holistic assessment components. In June 2023, YESS expanded on our successful 2021 launch of the 24/7 shelter for youth by consolidating our existing programming, recreation, and primary medical care from the Armoury Resource Centre into the Whyte Avenue location. Our intent is to address the immediate need we are seeing for youth in crisis and build a strong evaluation model for the Community Youth Support Centre that is scalable and repeatable across the city.
|24/7 Crisis and Intervention Support at Whyte
|New Resources & Services (Monday-Friday) at Whyte Ave
While the YESS Community Youth Support Centre is still very new, the transition has been successful, and we are seeing the beginnings of positive impact on youth. For example:
- serious incidents (requiring EPS or EMS) in July 2023 are 60% lower than in July 2022
- the average stay for a young person at the centre is 3.5 days and the majority are not staying longer than
13 days as we have been either able to get them back with family or into supportive or transitional housing
The impact of this holistic approach cannot be underestimated. By providing 24/7 crisis intervention and connected support, we can break down the barriers that currently prevent many youth from accessing help or staying on the journey to wellbeing. For many, this will save lives.
In addition, this strategy will also alleviate the pressure on our emergency departments and police services and, in time, reduce chronic adult homelessness
“I would be dead if it wasn’t for YESS. This is so serious, and it is not a joke. YESS helped me realize that I wasn’t just born to be a homeless person. That has been the hardest thing for me to do, is to change that mindset. When you are homeless it feels like you are worthless… When you are homeless it feels like no one else in society cares and getting over those feelings is still a struggle. So yeah, the staff at YESS, they help save people.”
Future Vision: 24/7 Crisis Intervention Centres in Communities Across Edmonton
The YESS model for 24/7 crisis intervention components and coordinated intake into the Youth Agency Collaboration can be added to any youth resource centre or mental health hub. Ideally, these service components would be added to the new Kickstand Integrated Youth Service Hubs planned for Alberta, and YESS has been working alongside Kickstand, CASA, and YAC for the past year to plan and build rationale for this approach.
This approach would address key aspects of the many challenges (those we can affect) that youth in crisis face: small shelters, access to necessary supports, consistent trauma-informed care, coordination among each onsite service provider, familiarity (trust), support (not judgemental or stigmatized), and holistic, accessible care. Most importantly, it will provide the 24/7 crisis intervention and support that is so needed.
This strategy could make a profound impact on youth wellbeing across Alberta and set the province as the best practice region for youth wellbeing. Because it is a model that can be consistently repurposed, it can easily be expanded adopted in other cities, provinces/territories, and countries. For example, there are integrated youth service (IYS) hubs across Canada that could have 24/7 crisis and stabilization components added.