Scarborough Health Network (SHN) is committed to providing comprehensive and accessible mental health care for children and adolescents, especially at a time when mental health support is crucial to developing minds. This is why, thanks to the tremendous support of the Slaight Family Foundation, we launched the Slaight Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Program! SHN and Strides Toronto, partners of Scarborough Ontario Health Team (SOHT), have created this program in partnership to offer our communities vital DBT services.

In September 2023, SHN Foundation was named among 19 healthcare organizations to receive a portion of a $26.5 million donation from the Slaight Family Foundation Mental Health Program. $1.5 million of this donation was allocated to SHN to fund our new DBT program for children and adolescents in the Scarborough community.

This program became a reality in March 2024 and is the first comprehensive DBT program in Scarborough. It is offered at SHN’s Shoniker Clinic (located at 2877A Ellesmere Rd., near Centenary Hospital), where we house a robust support network to meet the mental health needs of young people in the community.

What is DBT?

Beyond expanding our mental health services to Scarborough children and adolescents, the Slaight DBT Program was designed to offer targeted and effective forms of treatment to help individuals who have difficulties managing their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Dialectical behaviour therapy is an evidence-based, structured psychotherapy program that has proven to be effective in helping people who experience intense emotions, chronic depression, intense anxiety, impulsive behaviours, and other forms of mental health conditions that put them at risk for self-harm and/or suicidal behaviours.

A 2023 study shows that 39 per cent of Ontario high-school students display symptoms of anxiety and depression, while an additional 17 per cent indicate a serious level of psychological distress. Healthcare organizations across Canada have watched the need for dedicated mental health initiatives and programs increase in recent years, particularly in regards to children and adolescents.

Thanks to the support of the Slaight Family Foundation, SHN could devote our time to develop the Slaight DBT Program in order to offer an underrepresented method of care in a community of children and adolescents that need focused and dedicated treatment.

Our mental health professionals

Since its conception in late 2023, SHN staff involved in child/adolescent mental health treatment have looked forward to being able to offer a more comprehensive form of therapy to clients.

Hear from some of our Slaight DBT Program staff:

“I’ve been able to engage in the development and moulding of this program from the very beginning. It has been so exciting to see the program take shape into something truly significant to the community.

Having contributed to program decisions, design, and development has been extremely important as a clinician who will be implementing this treatment with clients and watching it go from concept to practice. I am inspired to bring an adherent DBT program that will serve Scarborough youth who would not otherwise have access to this critical, gold-standard treatment.

My colleagues at SHN and our counterparts at Strides Toronto have been fantastic, passionate collaborators and I look forward to continuing to evolve and improve this program with them.”

– Jennifer Durrant, Social Worker, Team Lead of Slaight DBT Program Clinician team

“It has always been challenging to connect children and adolescent clients with DBT programs because of the lack of this type of therapy and education of it within our community. The Slaight DBT Program will help begin to close this overlooked gap in treatment. As a psychiatrist who cares deeply for my clients, I look forward to children and adolescents starting to receive this much needed treatment modality.”

– Dr. Teresa Lim, Lead Psychiatrist, Child and Adolescent Mental Health

“We’ve spent months preparing and training for this program, and I have been beyond excited for the opportunity to develop such a crucial service from the ground up. Group therapy is one of my favourite methods of counselling as I often find my clients responsive to it. As group skills therapy are a main feature in this program—a treatment model that is not accessible enough to the youth in our community—the potential in this program is vast.

The Slaight DBT Program also introduces compassionate and dedicated social workers and therapists to the transitional aged population in Scarborough, which is key in addressing the unique needs of adolescents in our community.”

– Emily Crocker, Social Worker, DBT Therapist

Made possible by our donors

SHN is endlessly grateful to the Slaight Family Foundation for their long-standing support of our hospitals and the Love, Scarborough campaign. Their donation of $1.5 million made the Slaight DBT Program possible, allowing SHN and Strides Toronto to provide critical DBT to adolescents and young adults and offer them a brighter future. The Slaight family’s generosity inspires all of us at SHN and inspires us to imagine what we could do for our community with more resources.

We are honoured to house this service in the Slaight Family’s name, recognizing their generosity and commitment to supporting the future of Scarborough’s youth.

SHN looks forward to the developments we will make to our community’s health in partnership with Strides Toronto.