William Osler Health System partners with Team Unbreakable in youth program

The William Osler Health System in Brampton is building on a successful spring season using the Team Unbreakable run-therapy program and has in place a fall program that will culminate in a 5K Unbreakable Bold and Cold run.

Osler recently established a Transitional Aged Youth (TAY) Clinic at the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness after research proved that there was a large gap in serving youth (between ages of 16-24) with major mental illness. Under the auspices of the TAY Clinic, the Team Unbreakable program was brought in, with Executive Director Carl Worrell as an advisor. He and his colleague, Program Coordinator Amanda Overholt, also helped to provide a series of motivational guest speakers from their program to talk about a variety of topics related to physical health and wellness.

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Seen here in the above photo is: Jumana Waez (volunteer), Kristen Pelletier (volunteer), Kaitlyn Drake (Occupational Therapist at the TAY Clinic), Natasha Ramzan (Social Worker at the TAY Clinic), and Amanda Overholt (CameronHelps).

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Last spring a 12 week run-therapy group was started for youth with symptoms of anxiety, depression or mental illness. The program culminated in June with a very successful Unbreakable Father’s Day 5k event. “The 5k run/walk was a huge success. It was priceless to have everyone together and cheered by proud friends and family members,” said Kaitlyn Drake, a Registered Occupational Therapist and one of clinic’s coaches.

“One of the key components of the Peel Memorial model and Osler’s goal in health care, is the integrated approach to all aspects of health including mental health. We plan to keep improving and fine tuning the youth program, and gather more data to support and grow this group in our efforts to support mental health initiatives,” Kaitlyn added. The Unbreakable program at the hospital is supervised by Kaitlyn, a social worker and a cadre of youthful volunteer coaches who have an interest in health and social service. Each of the participants of the program is asked to fill out a mood log which measures how they are feeling before they run and then after their run. They are asked to rate their emotions related to worry, sadness, happiness, anger and anxiety.

The spring session provided evidence that symptoms were improving and there was sufficient rationale for having the group continue in the fall, said Kaitlyn. “We found there are improvements in feelings of happiness and a decrease in sadness, worry, anger and anxiety.” Overall, Kaitlyn said the team concept provides structure, accountability and motivation to individuals. “We see them change — they blossom from someone who starts out introverted and then becomes more extroverted. There is a boost in self esteem. Those who were isolated before are better able to deal with their social anxiety – they’re not as uncomfortable.”

One area of learning after completing the spring program was that not all youth are medically able to participate in jogging the entire distance. “While most progress to running, we want to meet the youth where they are and we say to those who struggle with physical activity it is okay for them to walk. We leave no one behind!’ she said.

For the fall sessions, one evening has been added to incorporate specific topics to help with mood behaviour such as relaxation techniques and stress coping strategies.

Kaitlyn is looking forward to the culmination of the fall program and the chance for the clinic participants to take part in the Bold and Cold run in Brampton. “At the end of the12 week session, it is great to see them open up and smile. You get to see the change where everyone is engaged and talking.”

A Team Unbreakable program started a few years ago at Brampton Civic Hospital so the team had some background about the concept. It was originally pioneered by Dan McGann who at the time was a social worker at Credit Valley Hospital.

 

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