4 min read
20 October 2023

Youth mental health to benefit from a $1.7 million gift from The Slaight Family Foundation

Young people experiencing severe mental health and substance use conditions will soon have community-based, intensive support through Michael Garron Hospital and WoodGreen Community Services.

TORONTO (OCTOBER 20, 2023) – East Toronto is home to some of the most underserved and diverse areas of the city, including five priority neighbourhoods identified by the City of Toronto. Each year, Michael Garron Hospital’s Stavro Emergency Department cares for 1,300 teens and young adults seeking help for mental health and substance use concerns.

Many youth with especially complex needs go on to develop deeply entrenched conditions, in part because suitable and prolonged support in the community is not readily available.

Thanks to newly announced funding from The Slaight Family Foundation, Michael Garron Hospital and WoodGreen Community Services are co-leading the creation of a community-based, intensive outreach team to provide targeted and sustained care that meets young people where they’re at.

Based out of the Toronto East Youth Wellness Hub on Danforth Avenue, which today provides health and social services, the team will support young people how and where they want: in their homes, in the community, virtually or onsite.

Importantly, this initiative will reduce barriers to care by eliminating the need for referrals, at the same time leveraging well-established community connections to ensure ready access for those engaged in the system.

“Funding for mental health initiatives doesn’t just improve lives; it strengthens our entire social fabric,” says Gary Slaight, President and CEO, The Slaight Family Foundation. The foundation’s investment comes as part of a larger donation of $26.5 million 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 challenges.

“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,” Slaight adds. “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.”

Comprised of case managers, therapists, peer support workers, a psychiatrist and others, the intensive outreach team will target a gap in care in order to enhance the long-term health of youth and reduce their reliance on emergency and inpatient mental health services.

“While our young people are the future of Toronto, they are also more likely to experience mental illness and substance use issues than any other age group," says Anne Babcock, President & CEO of WoodGreen Community Services. “Wait times for youth seeking mental health support are at an all-time high. WoodGreen is proud to bring its experience working with youth to this vital collaboration with Michael Garron Hospital that will address a pressing need in our community. Thank you to The Slaight Family Foundation for making this project possible with your generosity.”

“We are deeply grateful to The Slaight Family Foundation for their generous support as we work to ensure youth are able to access the care they need,” says Melanie Kohn, President & CEO of Michael Garron Hospital. “This investment in Michael Garron Hospital and WoodGreen Community Services supports our organizations’ strong track record of working together with partners to transform lives of some of East Toronto’s most marginalized young people.”

Results will be evaluated to build a case for sustainable funding once The Slaight Family Foundation’s donation is fully expended. Findings will also be shared to inform potential development of similar programs that would benefit youth across the province.

About Michael Garron Hospital
Nestled in the heart of East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is a vibrant community teaching hospital serving one of Canada’s most diverse communities. For more than 90 years, MGH has delivered high-quality, patient-centred healthcare services to 400,000 people in its catchment and surrounding areas. From welcoming a new life to facing the end of life, the hospital has continually renewed its commitment to the East Toronto community by adapting its programs and services to meet the evolving needs of the diverse population it serves.

About WoodGreen Community Services

WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, serving 40,000 people each year. Operating in the city for more than 85 years, WoodGreen offers over 75 programs and services tackling the social determinants affecting the health and well-being of individuals in our community.


Media contact:

Jen Mayville, Senior Communications Manager, WoodGreen Community Services; [email protected]; (437) 226-8091 (cell)