New youth mental health clinic aims to tackle wait times

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RIVER HEIGHTS

A new mental health clinic for youth has opened in southwest Winnipeg amid long waits in the public system.

Psychiatric nurse and Cocoon Mental Health Clinic executive director Shea Silva, 29, began seeing clients in early July. The site, located at 205-530 Kenaston Blvd., offers mental health assessments and therapy skills for ages 12 to 25 at a rate of $150 per hour, as well as school-based supports, case management and help with health system navigation.

Psychiatric nurse and executive director Shea Silva, 29, began seeing clients at Cocoon Mental Health Clinic, located in southwest Winnipeg, in early July.

“At age 12 I knew I wanted to work with people with mental health issues,” said Silva, who graduated from Brandon University’s psychiatric nursing program four years ago. “I always knew that my passion was going to be working with youth in the community because I saw a real opportunity to make a difference and create some change.”

Silva decided to move to private practice after working with the Macdonald Youth Services crisis team, at in-patient psychiatric units and on a year-long pilot project in Steinbach, Man., that was trying to connect education and health.

“The pilot project gave me this picture of where the needs are and what parents and kids are experiencing,” Silva said. “I thought, ‘Psychiatric nurses could fill this gap and have an impact on some of these specific needs I’m hearing from clients and families.’”

Among those needs are prolonged wait times, advocacy, follow-up and case management, Silva said. While it’s often easier to access services when a person is in crisis, Cocoon Mental Health Clinic’s goal is to provide support to those whose symptoms are too severe to be managed by a family doctor but not severe enough for in-patient treatment.

While it only takes two weeks for a client to access Silva’s services, other Winnipeg-based treatments centres, including the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre, can take a couple of months to over a year (the eating disorder program has two-year wait-lists and some psychologists are booking into 2024, Silva added).

“No matter the emergency level, that’s how long it’s taking to even glimpse a referral,” Silva said. “They’re doing amazing work and their programming is the best, but when you’re a parent who isn’t sure of what’s going on or how to help your kid, those months can feel like a lifetime.”

Silva believes the process needs to be made more simple, and her aim with Cocoon Mental Health Clinic is to guide patients through their treatment and oversees every aspect of care. After referral, assessments and questionnaires are complete, a care plan is completed for the client. Age is the only criteria for who can attend the clinic.

“Family doctors have been pleased to have help from us. It’s doesn’t feel good to have kids that are struggling and have only 10 to 15 minutes with them before sending them onto a wait-list that takes weeks and weeks,” Silva said. “The reception has been really good from that perspective, and parents are relieved to have someone that’s actually able to see their child.”

For more information about Cocoon Mental Health Clinic and the services it offers, visit www.cocoonclinic.ca

Kelsey James

Kelsey James
Community Journalist

Kelsey James is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She graduated from Red River College’s creative communications program in 2018 as a journalism major and holds a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric, writing and communications from the University of Winnipeg. A lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in southwest Winnipeg, Kelsey is thrilled to be covering the neighbourhoods she still calls “home.”

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