The George Hull Centre for Children and Families
Our Impact Why We Exist
One in five Ontarians under the age of 17 has a mental health issue causing significant distress and impairing their functioning at home, at school, with peers or in the community. Research has shown that 70-80% of all mental health issues appear before age 18. These problems are paintful, serious and very real, and they can happen to any young person, regardless of age or circumstance. Left untreated, kids in distress can turn to drugs and alcohol, become suicidal, drop out of school, become violent, or withdraw into silence and isolation.
But there is hope. At The George Hull Centre, we work with children from birh to age 18, providing comprehensive, family-centered treatment, including specialized schooling, outpatient, residential and substance abuse treatment. We also deliver a range of focused and accessible prevention and early intervention programs in the community. Each year we see over 4,500 families - which means we are not only helping 4,500 kids, but also the parents and siblings of 4,500 kids, the schools they attend and the communities in which they live.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
The George Hull Centre was established in 1985 by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services with a mandate to provide comprehensive mental health services to children and families, to contribute to the research on children and families, and to offer a teaching centre to universities and colleges for professional training. The Centre is named in honour of George Hull, a long time Etobicoke educator known for his dedication and advocacy for children and youth. The Centre is accredited by Children’s Mental Health Ontario and is governed by a local volunteer Board of Directors. It is a non-profit charitable organization. There is no fee for service for clients. Staff from many disciplines - psychiatry, psychology, social work, speech and language pathology, child and youth work, early childhood education, and education - work together on multidisciplinary teams to provide assessment, treatment and consultation to the child, family and community. The Centre has a formal affiliation with the University of Toronto and serves as a teaching centre for students in psychiatry, medicine, social work and speech and language pathology. The teaching centre also accepts students in child and youth work, social work, and early childhood education from other universities and community colleges.
Our Programs How We Do It
The George Hull Centre serves approximately 4,500 children and their families each year through a continuum of programs including prevention and early intervention services, outpatient treatment, and more intensive day treatment, substance abuse and residential programs.
Clear Directions is one of the programs we offer.
Clear Directions is designed to assist youth, ages 13 to 18, who are struggling with serious substance abuse and mental health issues. The mission of Clear Directions is straightforward: to help young people, whose lives have been shattered by drugs and alcohol, break the cycle of addiction, rebuild their lives and become productive members of the community. The multi-disciplinary team, working within a harm reduction philosophy, engages youth by acknowledging and building on strength, instilling hope and inviting family and friends into the class and therapy rooms. A continuum of care encompassing outreach, individual and family therapy, a school program, psychiatric consultation, residential care, case management, and follow up is offered.
The Clear Directions program is committed to prevention and as such offers substance specific advice and the DAWN Program to the broader community, including local elementary and secondary schools. The DAWN Program provides education and accurate information in a neutral manner and motivates participants towards self-evaluation and the consideration of change related to current substance use practices. The Clear Directions Manager is also available to provide training to the professional community on adolescent substance use. Clear Directions continues to be at the frontier of best practices and the latest research related to adolescent substance use.
Funding and Program Partners
The Clear Directions program is offered in partnership with Breakaway, a Toronto addictions agency, and the Toronto District School Board. It is primarily funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Fundraising supports the outreach program.
Since 1995, the Clear Directions Program has worked intensively with youth struggling with serious mental health and addiction problems, leading to a decrease in substance use, and improved emotional well-being and academic performance, with most planning for employment or ongoing education upon discharge.
Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program
"12.7% of adults (12 years and over) reported having at least 5 drinks on one occasion, at least once a month in the previous year (up from 11.4% in the 2009/2010 reporting period)."
“I came to Clear Directions trying to beat my drug and alcohol addiction. I was drinking every day, sometimes I would go a week or more without sleeping or eating. I was being abused and at one time had been almost beaten to death by my boyfriend. I was being charged and had spent many months in jail. I had been kicked out of my home when I was 14 and was living with friends on the streets. I was sexually molested by my father’s best friend one week before I was asked to leave my home. When I came to Clear Directions I was a mess. I had just gotten out of jail two days before I came into the program. Clear Directions placed me in a group home because I had no place to live. I was very unsure as to being in a drug treatment program because I had not been in school for three years, but the staff at the program made me feel welcome and comfortable. They were here to help me with my withdrawal stages and never looked down on me when I did go and drink. They got me back into getting school credits and helping me with my family problems. When I first came, I had not seen my family in almost three or four years, but now I see them on a regular basis.
I have come a long way since then and now as I am leaving the program have nothing but gratitude because if it was not for this program, I could be dead right now. The only advice I can give to those in other programs is never rush a recovery, it takes a lot of time and patience. Never look down on anyone because of their decisions, always let them know that there are other options and people to help. For me, the most important part was to have someone who listened as well as gave me that little push to a new life.”
What You Can Do
Activities a donation will support
Financial support will enable us to expand the Clear Directions outreach program, which offers a prevention and early intervention program in local schools. The program focuses on the effects of substances on mind, body and relationships, the risks associated with substance use, and the process of dependence. Following the program, referrals are facilitated, where indicated, to existing substance abuse treatment programs. A past participant in Grade 10 said that the program “taught me more about drugs and how it affects everything from you to your friends, even though I’ve been learning about drugs since Grade 6.”
Grants to this program will increase our ability to:
- provide education and accurate information on substance use to youth;
- reach youth who are not quite ready to acknowledge they have a substance use problem and so go without help until their use is excessive, dangerous and much more difficult to treat;
- help youth access appropriate mental health and/or substance abuse treatment programs where indicated.