New Propel program helps children and youth get involved and build lifelong skills

Improved confidence, sense of accomplishment, and community connections are just some of the results that child and youth worker Matt Shantz, has already seen in the participants of the newly launched Propel program.

About 1,000 children and youth receive care for mental health at Grand River Hospital each year. Treatment typically includes day programs and different kinds of therapy to overcome the cyclical nature of mental health challenges. Sometimes when patients complete their care and return home, they are at risk of becoming disengaged and isolated.

Now, thanks to the support of our community and a dedicated team of staff, care providers are able to refer children and youth, between the ages of six and 18, to Propel, a new program offered through Grand River Hospital’s mental health program.  The Propel program staff reaches out to community organizations to find a suitable activity for patients as part of their treatment.

“The idea behind the Propel program is to help children and youth build resiliency,” said Grand River Hospital’s Chief of Psychiatry, Dr. John Heintzman, “We can do that by providing opportunities that set them up for success to regain their self-confidence and esteem.”

Since the program launched in fall 2017, 40 youth with mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety, are currently in the program. More than half are actively engaged in an activity like horseback riding, music lessons or driver’s education.

“Community organizations involved have provided positive feedback, telling us that participants are eager to learn new skills and as a result gain more confidence,” said Matt.

Family members have also seen an increase in their child’s confidence and enjoyment of life.  Donor funding directly helps by covering the enrolment fee of the patient’s chosen activity.

“We’re extremely grateful for donors who helped us put Propel in motion,” said Dr. Heintzman. “The experience of feeling engaged in the community is invaluable for these youth. They learn life skills that will help them cope today and into their future.”

For more information about Grand River Hospital’s mental health program, click here.