New: The YouthCan Impact Walk In!

Last updated: November 17th, 2016

As you may have already heard, YouthCan has recently opened a new walk-in clinic in conjunction with Skylark (formerly Delisle and Oolagen)! It is located in the basement of our 40 Orchard View Blvd office in Midtown Toronto, right at Yonge and Eglinton. Alongside our What’s Up Walk In, we provide cost-free and hassle-free access to mental health services for youth aged 13-21 and their families! Our incredible counsellors can provide support for any issue you may have, and connect you with more resources. Come on by and have a chat with us!

Skylark Children, Youth and Families – YouthCan Impact Walk In – Yonge and Eglinton

40 Orchard View Blvd, Unit 102 (Lower Level)

Walk In Hours: Tuesday 2-5

Wednesday 4-7

Thursday 2-6

Saturday 10-2

*Please arrive one hour prior to closing*

(Ages: Youth aged 13 to 21, and their families)

Skylark Children, Youth and Families – What’s Up Walk In – Church and Wellesley

65 Wellesley Avenue E (at Church), Suite 500


Walk In Hours: Monday & Thursday: 2:00pm-600pm (arrive by 4:30pm)

                      Tuesday: 10:00am-2:00pm (arrive by 12:30pm)

                      Wednesday: 12:00pm-8:00pm (arrive by 6:30pm)

                         Friday: 9:00am-2:00pm (arrive by 12:30pm)

*When visiting after 6:00PM you are required to enter an access code on a panel outside of the building entrance.  Enter 1030 then press ZERO to reach the receptionist*

(Ages: Monday & Friday 0-18.  Tuesday-Thursday 13-18)


Our walk-ind are just one of many that have recently opened in Toronto. If either of the Skylark walk-ins are inconvenient for you or you are not within the age group that we provide services to, check out the other clinics in the city!

Family Services Toronto

128A Sterling Road- 2nd floor


Walk In Hours: Wednesdays: 3:30pm-7:30pm (arrive by 6:15pm)

(Ages: 18 and over)


Woodgreen Community Services

815 Danforth Ave, Suite 100 (at Donlands)

416-645-6000 (ext 1100)

Walk In hours: Wednesdays 4pm-8pm (arrive by 6:45pm)

(Ages:18 and over)


East Metro Youth Services

1200 Markham Rd. (at Ellesmere), 2nd Floor

416-438-3697 (ext 360)

Walk In Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 2pm-8pm (arrive by 7pm)

Tuesday: 10am – 5pm (arrive by 4pm)

Friday: 10 am- 5pm (arrive by 4pm)

Saturday: 10am-2pm (arrive by 1pm)




747 Warden Ave. (north of St. Clair)


Walk In Hours: Wednesdays: 12 pm-8pm (arrive by 6:45pm)

(Ages: 12-21)


Yorktown Child & Family Centre

2010 Eglinton Avenue West, 3rd floor (West of Dufferin)


Walk In Hours:          Monday & Thursday 1:30pm-6:00pm (arrive by 5:00pm)

                         Tuesday & Friday 10:00am-3:00pm (arrive by 2:00pm)

                          Wednesday 2:00pm-8:00pm (arrive by 7:00pm)



The Etobicoke Children’s Centre

2267 Islington Avenue (Rexdale Mall Lower Level)


Walk In Hours:  Mondays: 2:00pm –6:00pm (arrive by 5:00pm)                                         

Tuesdays: 10:00am –3:00pm (arrive by 2:00pm)

Wednesdays: 12:00pm-8:00pm (arrive by 6:30)     

Thursdays: 2:00pm-6:00pm (arrive by 5:00)

Fridays: 10:00am-2:00pm (arrive by 1:00)

(Ages: 0-18)


Better Life Counselling Center

240 Duncan Mills Road, Suite 404

(647) 726-2999

Walk in Hours: Tuesdays: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm (Arrive no later than 6:45)

*fees for service may apply

(Ages 12 and over)


Griffin Centre

1126 Finch Ave West, Unit 16


Walk in Hours: Monday: 1:30pm – 7pm (last session at 6pm)

          Tuesday: 9:30am – 2 pm (last session at 1pm)

         Wednesday: 1:30pm-7pm (last session at 6pm)

         Thursday: 2pm – 7pm (last session at 6pm)

          Friday: 9:30am- 2pm (last session at 1pm)


Stories from Oolagen: Cathy’s Story

Last updated: August 24th, 2016

We are excited to announce that Delisle Youth Services is merging with Oolagen Community Services. To highlight the merger, we will be featuring a series of youth stories from youth who have been impacted the services at Oolagen. By merging, we will have:

  • More resources available
  • More professional development for our staff
  • More knowledge sharing between Oolagen and Delisle
  • More counselling options for youth and families
  • Increased depth to our programming

We are #strongertogether! For more information on the merger, please visit our official announcement:

Cathy’s Story

A year may seem like a long time to feel bad, but it isn’t for me. I’ve been feeling low for about three years. The most prevalent problem was my eating. I wouldn’t eat and then I’d get so hungry I’d eat a lot and throw it right back up. Although I never have been “rail thin’ (like I’d like to be), I’ve been trapped in it all the same.

I was terribly nervous at my first session at Oolagen and I didn’t say much. After a while, I felt I could talk with the social worker and I felt comfortable. Being able to explain to someone who understands is something I’d never experienced before. I could say how I felt and be open without worrying about anyone laughing or pointing at me. The dark cloud of my depression became clearer and easier to understand.

I can’t say enough about Oolagen because absolutely and truly I don’t know where I would be without it. I don’t even know if I would be here. That’s a hard thing to write, but it’s the truth. Having Oolagen in the school was a special bonus that allowed me my privacy from telling my family what was going on.

I’m not feeling wonderful, but I am here, and I know I have something to hold on to. I wish for all those who feel like me would find such a thing as Oolagen. It has helped more than many – even I – can know.

Stories from Oolagen: Elizabeth’s Story

Last updated: August 24th, 2016

We are excited to announce that Delisle Youth Services is merging with Oolagen Community Services. To highlight the merger, we will be featuring a series of youth stories from youth who have been impacted the services at Oolagen. By merging, we will have:

  • More resources available
  • More professional development for our staff
  • More knowledge sharing between Oolagen and Delisle
  • More counselling options for youth and families
  • Increased depth to our programming

We are #strongertogether! For more information on the merger, please visit our official announcement:

Elizabeth’s Story

At 16, Elizabeth was a bright, ambitious girl who had already endured more than her share of social ad family challenges when her mother took her own life.

Determined to “get over it and move on”, Elizabeth seemed fine on the outside. But she wasn’t fine. Her ongoing grief and guilt, combined with her self-imposed pressure to get top grades and be perfect were taking a mental and emotional toll. She began experimenting with drugs, staying out all night and having violent arguments with her brother and father.

After coming to Oolagen Elizabeth said her therapist helped her figure everything out, including how to stop associating everything that happened to her with her mother’s death. Oolagen also advocated for Elizabeth with authorities at her school and also helped her learn coping skills to manage the pressures of high school…and the pressures Elizabeth put on herself.

After graduating from high school Elizabeth was accepted into the Honours Communication Studies program at Carleton University in Ottawa…and one of the first people she shared this happy news with was her Oolagen therapist because, to quote Elizabeth, “she played a huge part in my success”.

Stories from Oolagen: A.J.’s Story

Last updated: August 24th, 2016

We are excited to announce that Delisle Youth Services is merging with Oolagen Community Services. To highlight the merger, we will be featuring a series of youth stories from youth who have been impacted the services at Oolagen. By merging, we will have:

  • More resources available
  • More professional development for our staff
  • More knowledge sharing between Oolagen and Delisle
  • More counselling options for youth and families
  • Increased depth to our programming

We are #strongertogether! For more information on the merger, please visit our official announcement:

A.J.’s Story

His father left before he was born. His mother had challenges that rendered her unable to take care of him. For his first 9 years, he learned that tantrums and provocative behaviour got him what he wanted. For the rest of his youth and most of his adolescence, he was in and out of foster and group homes—16 different ones and 100 different caregivers over the course of 10 years. Not to mention hospital stays and court appearances.

Then A.J. came to Oolagen, because he said he realized that he had hopes and dreams just like any other kids and he wanted to do whatever he could to help make them come true.

At one of Oolagen’s residential treatment homes, A.J. found people who helped him realized that those hopes and dreams were realistic. They helped him discover his strengths and talents and in his own words, “vowed to do whatever it took to help me achieve my goals”.

With Oolagen’s help and support, A.J. was able to secure and maintain a job, return to school, win an outstanding achievement award and successfully enroll in college.

For as long as he could remember, it was A.J.’s dream to become a journalist.  Oolagen helped A.J. transform that dream into reality. Oolagen believed in A.J.  and their belief and confidence in him helped him turn his life in a positive direction.

A.J. knows what it’s like to feel helpless, lost and alone. But now he also knows what it’s like to be a productive, contributing member of society.

A Visit to The Studio

Last updated: August 5th, 2016


Recently, our social media team went down to the basement to explore The Studio. The Studio is a LGBTQ positive drop-in space for youth ages 13-21. It’s a place for youth to create art, socialize, do homework, and gain access to food and other resources. It’s also the home of the STARS program for LGBTQ youth.

When the team arrived the space, they were greeted by the friendly and enthusiastic staffers. Someone was setting up the Wii to play Mario Kart (a staple of any youth-oriented space). There was an Everest-scale mountain of bean bag chairs in front of the TV. Even in a short visit of the space, it’s obvious why The Studio is one of Delisle’s most popular services. The openness, positivity, and overwhelming sense of welcome makes The Studio a unique home-away-from-home.

When asked why they believed that it was important to have a space like The Studio, staff member Afi explained that many youth have very few places to go; whether they’re homeless or living in shelters, many of which kick residents out during the day. They also told the team that there are few non-profit and non-commercial spaces for youth, especially for LGBTQ youth.

Though there is a bit of a lull at the Studio right now, there will be more events in the Fall such as educational events about harm reduction, healthy relationships, and anti-ableism, sexism, racism, etc. Also, every first friday of the month is dedicated to special LGBTQ- oriented events.

The Studio is located at 40 Orchard View Blvd. Unit 100 and is open Monday-Thursday from 3:00-7:45PM. We look forward to seeing you there!



Written by Rebecca: Rebecca is a student working at Delisle this summer helping out with social media and communications. She will be starting at the University of Toronto in the fall, studying English and Cinema Studies. She also enjoys long walks on the beach, ice cream cones, and dogs.

My name is Marina. I’m a 17 year old from Toronto and I am living with Borderline Personality Disorder.

My mental health has always been a struggle, even before I really knew what mental illness truly was. Growing up I always felt everything so intensely that I could never really label what I was feeling. It wasn’t until the beginning of grade nine that I realized there was something was wrong. I was constantly anxious, my mood would spiral at the drop of a hat, and I always had this heavy weight on my shoulders and an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I was at an arts school but completely lost all the passion and motivation I once had. I was struggling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts and managing everything on my own, and people started to notice. A couple of my friends had realized I needed help and spoke up to a teacher. At the time I was furious and I resented them for telling someone about what I was going through, but looking back at it I can honestly say that they saved my life by trying to get me the help that I didn’t know I needed. I started seeing a guidance counsellor at my school and was put on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. During the weeks of waiting for my first appointment, my mental health got worse and I was admitted to a psychiatric ward for two months. This is where my journey to recovery really began.

Over the past few years I’ve had many hospital admissions, tried countless medications, tried multiple types of therapy and worked with several doctors, none of which could settle on a diagnosis or a treatment plan that would work for me. After trying so many routes of treatment that never seemed to work, I started losing hope. I really believed that I would never get better. That I would live in constant distress forever. After being discharged from a 3 month stay at CAMH, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. When I heard the symptoms and explanation of BPD I was shocked. I finally had a diagnosis that made sense to me. I had an explanation for the things I was feeling and through learning about the disorder I learned more about myself. I decided to give my recovery one last try and I started fresh at a new therapy clinic where I started working on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT for short. I went to group every Thursday and saw a psychologist once every week. I was doubtful at first that this type of therapy would work for me, but slowly I started realizing that it was exactly what I needed. I finally had a therapist that I felt comfortable with, and she helped me find hope and faith in myself again. I made a promise to her and to myself that I would dedicate myself to life and creating a life worth living, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for impacting my life in the way that she has.

I’ve now been working on DBT for two years, and it’s changed my life in ways I never thought possible. I’ve turned my experiences with mental health into a passion for music, poetry, creativity and a passion for life. I use music and poetry as healthy coping strategies and as a way to tell my story and hopefully help others. I take all my negative emotions and project them into my art, and I honestly don’t think my work would be the same if I didn’t go through everything I have. I have a job here at DYS which I am so grateful for, and I get to use my experiences with mental health to be able to reach out to others.  There is so much negativity in the world, and spreading a positive message is so important to me. I find the work that Delisle does so inspiring, and what they’re doing is so important. Through my experiences with mental illness I’ve found so much love and empathy for the people around me, and I’m so passionate about mental health and the importance of taking care of your mind. I’ve had so much help along the way to where I am now, and I want to be able to do the same for someone else one day. I want to be that positive person in someone else’s life. I want to help people realize that they’re so capable of recovery and how worthy they are of happiness.

My mental illness doesn’t define me, but it will always be a part of me. Recovery is a journey, not a destination, and I’m still working on it, but I am so proud of how far I’ve come. For the first time in my life I’m living. Not in fear, but for myself.

Coping With Suicidal Behavior In Teens

The teen years are often confusing and overwhelming to even the most well-adjusted child. For some, an introduction to drugs or alcohol can lead to troubling behaviors; for others, emotional or psychiatric disorders play a part. When faced with a teenager who has become depressed and is exhibiting suicidal tendencies, parents often don’t know where to begin in helping their child, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and that there are many reasons a person turns to suicide. It can be difficult to understand another’s thought process, but if you can be patient–with your teen and with yourself–things can be turned around.

Young people in the age of technology have a very different set of problems than their parents did. The issues–such as sex or sexual preference, bullying, and body image–are much the same, but are complicated now with the introduction of social media and the availability of smartphones. Now, any transgression can be recorded and uploaded in the blink of an eye to the general public.

Social media allows bullies to follow through with disturbing behaviour from behind the safety of a screen name. All of these things can contribute to depression in a teen whose emotional state is already high from the pressures of school and social activities.

The list of possible reasons a teenager might become withdrawn and non-social is a long one; perhaps they had a fight with a best friend, or a particular crush doesn’t know they exist. Maybe they are failing a class and don’t know how to ask for help due to fear of reprimand. For some, becoming sexually active is an extremely stressful time that is hard to cope with. The fear of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy can keep a teen from talking openly with their parents.

If you are uncomfortable with speaking to your kids about these topics, it might be a good idea to help them find a professional to speak with, whether it’s for therapy or just a trusted health care provider. For many young people, having some of these issues can seem insurmountable and resulting depression or feelings of shame can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Drug and alcohol use can increase as teens get older. Alcohol lowers a user’s inhibitions, which can lead to dangerous behavior, but even when a young person is only “social drinking,” it can lead to a much bigger problem. Alcohol can amplify feelings of depression or isolation, and if the drinker has already had thoughts of suicide, it could push them toward the idea that they are out of options.

While facing these feelings can be frightening for an adult, they can be overwhelming for a teenager who feels like they will lose the love and support of their family over certain behaviors or mistakes. It’s important to talk to your child if you suspect they are harboring suicidal thoughts and let them know they are loved. There are many support groups online for families and individuals who need help, so don’t feel as though you need to go at it alone. Pay attention to warning signs, such as personality changes, mood swings, verbiage that includes the word “suicide,” or withdrawal from contact with others.

Finally, it’s important to address the root cause of your child’s suicidal thoughts, perhaps with a mental health professional. There may be a psychiatric disorder or emotional issue that needs to be resolved, or perhaps a past event that caused trauma that has been buried for months or years. Speaking to a professional could help, but sometimes all the child needs is the support of their family.


Jennifer McGregor has wanted to be a doctor since she was little. Now, as a pre-med student, she’s well on her way to achieving that dream. She helped create with a friend as part of a class project. With it, she hopes to provide access to trustworthy health and medical resources. When Jennifer isn’t working on the site, you can usually find her hitting the books in the campus library or spending some downtime with her dog at the local park.


Mindful Breathing

Last updated: July 25th, 2016

Anxiety causes many physiological responses to stress and panic. Breathing problems and hyperventilation are very common with people suffering with anxiety and they can be incredibly distressing. That feeling of panic only increases when your breathing starts speeding up, so sometimes breathing exercises can really help!I know that hearing the phrase “just breathe” is the last thing you want to hear when you’re having a panic attack, and that is completely valid and understandable (I don’t like it either, trust me). But these breathing techniques we’re going to talk about are more for calming you down when you feel anxiety or a panic attack coming on. Slow breathing actually can relieve anxiety and prevent panic attacks if you do it as soon as you notice your breathing changing and your anxiety growing.

I’m going to talk about three different breathing techniques today. Square breathing, the Calm Breath and the One Minute Breath. With each type of breathing technique, you are going to want to take deep breaths and breathe into your diaphragm (belly breathing). To know you are breathing correctly, place your hand over your stomach. When you breathe, your stomach should rise, rather than your chest.


Square Breathing

Square breathing is one of the easiest techniques to remember, and it also really helps calm down your breathing. There are four easy steps to practicing Square Breathing and they go as follows:

  1. Breathe in for four seconds.
  2. Hold for four seconds.
  3. Breathe out for four seconds
  4. Hold for four seconds.
    (repeat for as long as you need to)

Calm Breath

This next breathing technique is a slight variation of square breathing. It’s essentially the same idea, but with a longer exhale time. For the Calm Breath there are also 4 steps.

  1. Breathe in for four seconds.
  2. Hold for four seconds.
  3. Breathe out for 6 seconds.
  4. Hold for 2 seconds.

(repeat for as long as you need to)

One Minute Breath (Variation)

The last technique I’m going to talk about is probably the most difficult, so I’ll talk about this technique and the variations you can use to help make it more comfortable and effective for yourself. Keep in mind that everyone’s bodies are different, and these breathing techniques are all about practice.

The unmodified way to practice the One Minute Breath is as follows:

  1. One cycle per minute.
  2. Inhale for 20 seconds.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.
  4. Exhale for 20 seconds.

Most people starting out will not be able to do this on their first, second, or even third try. Breathing techniques (especially this one) take practice, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t follow that first pattern. I’ll also explain how you can make this technique work for you, no matter your experience level.

Let yourself work up to it! They key of breathing exercises is to be comfortable and relaxed. So ease your way into it! Start inhaling for 10 seconds, holding for 10 seconds, and exhaling for 10 seconds (or even 5 seconds if you need to!) Once you’re comfortable with the 10 second increments, try moving up to 12 or 15 seconds each and make your way up to 20 when/if it’s comfortable for you. Everyone has their limits and pace and that’s totally okay!


I hope these breathing techniques will be to help you. They’re a good way to practice mindfulness and manage stress wherever you are. In combination with listening to calming music, these breathing patterns can really be a great coping mechanism to fight anxiety. Give it a try! We hope it works for you.


Written by Marina, a Social Media and Communications Assistant for Delisle Youth Services for the summer of 2016. I’ve participated in many breathing classes and through learning a lot of different styles, these three techniques have been my favourite!

Art has the power to bring people together – and this year’s Delisle Youth Gallery exhibition, Reflections of the Modern Mind, was an event to remember for the whole community!

The Delisle Youth Gallery is a youth run, for youth art exhibition that takes place each April. This year, we had a group of 10 youth meet regularly between October and April to plan and become curators of their very own exhibition. A call for art was put out to the community, and we received 72 pieces of youth art! The call for art is unique because there are no restrictions on mediums or styles of art – all art is accepted.

We hosted an opening reception for the exhibition on Thursday, April 7th, and had over 100 guests attend to view the art and bid through a silent auction on available pieces. We also had youth performances through out the night, including an animation dancer, a magician, and live drawings!

The following is a quote from an exhibition attendee:

“I’ve been to famous art museums around the world (Australia, Europe, Asia, North America, Middle East) and honestly this exhibit had as many pieces catch my attention and make me pause to think and look at the art as any other exhibition that I’ve been to.”

Thank you to the Youth Committee, volunteers, sponsors, youth artists, and supporters of this event. We couldn’t have done it without you!



Delisle’s Harm Reduction Bulletin

Last updated: January 6th, 2016

DYS loves Harm Reduction education! So what is Harm Reduction?

One one level, Harm Reduction is a pragmatic, non-judgemental set of strategies to reduce individual and community harm caused by drug use.  It focuses on reducing harm in incremental steps and may or may not include abstinence as one of those steps.   On another level, harm reduction is about challenging stigmatizing language and practices that isolate and devalue people.  This extends beyond substance use and can be included in any approach that values meeting people where they are at, working with the processes of change and respecting people’s innate wisdom and expertise on themselves.  Harm Reduction is also activism against the harms of repressive laws and policies designed around stigma and misinformation, particularly around substances.

Our very own Harm Reduction Specialist, Peter Newnham, has created the DYS Harm Reduction Bulletin to share resources and updates for social service workers, parents, and anyone who has ever had any questions about reducing harm.

This issue contains:

1. Need to Know News: World AIDS Day

2. Dear Harmy: What are Poppers?

3. Resource of the Month: Harm Reduction Apps for your Phone

4. Need to Know Links: Carl Hart

Check out the Bulletin here: Harm Reduction Bulletin Volume 3