A generous gift of $1 million from The Slaight Family Foundation was announced today that will help Sinai Health expand its unique youth mental health program, Pathway to Peers. The donation will allow Sinai Health to launch a multiyear pilot of Pathway to Peers with its partner institution, Trillium Health Partners. It will also further Sinai Health’s goal of establishing itself as a training institution where other Emergency Departments can learn how to replicate and implement mental health peer support programs of their own.
The Slaight Family Foundation gift is part of a larger multi-million-dollar donation to 19 organizations including national charities, Greater Toronto Area hospitals, and community service providers to support and expand services for youth suffering from mental health issues. The initiative will enable recipient organizations to provide new or enhanced models of care for youth suffering from issues such as substance abuse, psychosis, schizophrenia, eating disorders and post-partum depression.
Sinai Health’s Pathway to Peers program was established through a multi-million-dollar investment from RBC and in partnership with Stella's Place. Since its inception in 2020, the program has helped over 5,400 young adults aged 16 to 29 access trained peer support workers for mental health and/or substance use issues in the Mount Sinai Hospital emergency department (ED).
In Pathway to Peers, trained peer support workers are available six days a week, collaborating with the ED’s clinical team to help youth navigate the mental health care system. The peer support workers, who all have lived experience with substance abuse disorders or mental health crises, help patients in their moments of crisis, and connect them with community-based resources to ensure long-term success after they leave the ED. Their tailored care ensures each patient who is seen by a Pathway to Peers support worker receives an experience unique to their personal needs.
Pathway to Peers also provides academic impact, in that the program constantly monitors and re-evaluates its results so that it can change and adapt to provide optimal care to patients. Pathway to Peers is an evidence-based program centered on strategies of how to best utilize peer support workers to help young adults navigate EDs and the broader mental health care system.
“Funding for mental health initiatives doesn’t just improve lives; it strengthens our entire social fabric,” said Gary Slaight, President and CEO, The Slaight Family Foundation. “One of the issues we heard loud and clear was the disconnect between youth discharged from hospitals and the continued community support or services available to them. Investing in these connecting services and programs is an investment in the well-being and future of our youth. We consider this support a fundamental step towards breaking down barriers and creating a more equitable, accessible healthcare system.”
“Sinai Health’s Pathway to Peers program is one we are extremely proud of. We know it makes a real difference in the patients who access the program, and the feedback we get from our clinical staff is that they see the positive impact it makes, too,” says Louis de Melo, President & CEO, Sinai Health Foundation. “We’re grateful to the Slaight Family Foundation for their generous support and their commitment to helping us ensure even more young people are supported through Pathway to Peers. We look forward to partnering with Trillium Health Partners and hope the program can continue to make positive, lasting impacts on all who access it.”
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