Jay MacDonald’s official title at CMHA Middlesex is Manager of Supportive and Transitional Housing. His background is in child and youth work. Jay’s passion, however, lies in helping transform our agency to one that is truly responsive to the needs of emerging adults in need of mental health services.
As part of his portfolio, Jay manages our transitional youth apartments and the transitional youth home. This work has exposed him to the issues faced by young people – those between the ages of 16 and 26 – who are naturally in a transitional stage in life, but also contending with the symptoms of mental illness.
CMHA services have traditionally been geared toward individuals who are 18+. However, we are often approached for service by families of youth, and by youth themselves. In addition, we recognize the need for services specifically geared to emerging adults, as well as those individuals transitioning between youth mental health services and adult mental health services.
“Our goal, over the coming months and years, is to transform our services so that they are more responsive, more flexible to the needs of youth. We start by listening to youth – listening to what they are asking for, in a really meaningful way,” explains MacDonald.
His vision is a smooth and coordinated transition between youth and adult mental health services and a model that provides the appropriate level of support when, where and how it is needed.
“Our services need to be authentic, meaningful and youth driven,” adds MacDonald. “We need to understand what’s most important to youth, what they need, what they don’t want to lose. Our youth focus needs to be apparent from their first contact, until they transition out of service.”
With partnerships in place with Youth Opportunities Unlimited and the Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses (PEPP) at London Health Sciences Centre, and work on a Transition Age Protocol with area partners already underway and the development of a Youth Advisory Committee, CMHA Middlesex is laying the groundwork for an agency recognized by area youth as one that helped them succeed in their journey to mental wellness.