Toronto Faces Decrease in Mental Well-Being

Did you know? In 2021, 55% of Toronto adults rated their mental health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent,’ down from 71% in 2017. 

Source: toronto.ca


Toronto is facing a severe drug toxicity and overdose crisis. It is only made worse by considerable barriers to healthcare access. In November 2023, the City of Toronto released a new plan called “Our Health, Our City: A Mental Health, Substance Use, Harm Reduction, and Treatment Strategy for Toronto.” 


Although we applaud the care and attention being given to this important issue, we know that waiting around for government funding is no way to ensure that doors to essential healthcare programs stay open.


Programs like those at Caritas School of Life Therapeutic Community!


Caritas My Second Home: An Addictions Services Program for Women

In October 2022, Caritas School of Life opened My Second Home. It is a six-week outpatient program providing addictions and mental health support for women and gender diverse individuals who seek recovery from substance abuse and want to learn effective coping strategies. The program includes life-skills training, career help and counselling. It has since emerged as one of the most successful full-day women’s addiction support programs in York Region. It was also the first of its kind within the Greater Toronto Area.


My Second Home is rooted in the Therapeutic Community philosophy. It takes a holistic treatment approach to address addiction, mental health concurrent disorders, and core issues linked to an unhealthy lifestyle. In addition to providing community support, life skills workshops and creative activities, women who participate in My Second Home have free access to a licensed psychotherapist for one-on-one sessions, something that is extremely cost-prohibitive otherwise.


Caritas Needs Support

Although My Second Home provides a critical and even life-saving service, the grant funding that they used to pilot the program ran out, and the provincial funding they applied for has yet to be approved.


That’s why, in February 2024, Hats On For Awareness stepped in—keen to offer funding support as a way to keep the doors open to people in need.


“My life was like a dark hole. My bed became my prison. Things had to change because I was losing my life. Then, I found Caritas My Second Home, a friendly group of people who taught me different ways of thinking. A place where people inspired and believed in me, professionals who shared my journey, and destroyed the stigma of mental health. 

They gave me a life again! I am eternally grateful for My Second Home. Now, I am currently in the process of applying to volunteer work that I hope leads to a job opportunity.”

— My Second Home Participant


The Numbers Paint a Picture of Critical Care

During an 18-month period, My Second Home provided treatment to 159 unique patients (against a target of 160), with an overall completion rate of 76% per cohort. This kind of completion rate speaks to the quality of support and effectiveness of the program.


In addition, survey results from My Second Home participants show the program’s positive impact:

    • 89% noted that My Second Home helped them abstain from substances.

    • 100% stated that the program assisted them in learning and practicing coping skills, providing a safe space to discuss their addiction.

    • 93% felt that their overall experience at My Second Home was excellent.


Your Support Breaks Barriers to Access

When you support Hats On For Awareness—whether you’re attending the Hatsquerade Gala, participating in Pass the Hat during Mental Health Week, or simply donating—you are directly impacting the lives of people accessing Caritas My Second Home.


My Second Home has been transformative for many, by…

    • Providing purpose and routine

    • Facilitating the processing of trauma

    • Fostering lasting relationships


When you show support, you play a part in that transformative experience.


Without provincial funding, it’s up to us to ensure uninterrupted and equitable access to addiction and mental health support programs like My Second Home.


Let’s break barriers to access, together!


Make A Difference

Are you interested in participating in our Pass The Hat campaign 2024? From May 6th to 10th, we’ll be posting mental health awareness information on social media and encouraging others to do the same. It’ll be a week of community uniting to offer solidarity, engaging in heartfelt conversations and story sharing, and giving what we can to increase mental health care access. When you put on a hat, share your thoughts, and tag us on your socials that week, you’ll be helping raise awareness so that more of our youth have somewhere to turn in a crisis. Follow us on Instagram or sign up to learn more, today.

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