A new service hub is operating in Brandon and it aims to improve mental health and addictions services for youth in the Westman region.

The Manitoba government is combining and coordinating mental health, addictions and social service supports for youth at several service hub locations in the province to improve access to the care they need.

Following a youth-engaged process, the Manitoba Youth Hubs Initiative locations are coming under the new Huddle brand and bringing multiple health and community service partners together to provide easy-to-find, inclusive and welcoming wrap-around supports to Manitobans aged 12 to 29 and to their families. Huddle sites will also bridge Indigenous and Western models of health care to better serve diverse youth.

Six Huddle sites in Winnipeg, Brandon and Selkirk will be available in Manitoba.

“In my 10 years of serving youth in Westman, I have experienced a high degree of trust and collaboration between youth-serving agencies. Huddle Brandon takes that one step further in one location,” said Shaun Funk, director, Huddle Brandon. “We have already seen a youth enter Huddle Brandon to see an addiction counsellor and leave connected to a peer supporter with plans to attend a skill-based anxiety group the next day in the same location. We know that health and wellness is a holistic experience, and having us working together under one roof in a highly integrated and youth-centred way will increase accessibility and quality of care for all youth and their families.”

The new Huddle brand includes the tagline Here for Youth.

“As a member of the Huddle Youth Advisory Council in Brandon and initiative-wide, I am incredibly grateful to be involved in envisioning and creating Huddle,” said Sachi Villanueva of the Huddle Youth Advisory Council. “As a first-generation immigrant, I will continue to use experiences from my mental health journey to address gaps in services, identify groups that are under served and work toward eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health support.”

In March 2021, the Manitoba government announced a $1.92-million investment in the creation of five hub sites to expand integrated services for children and youth across Manitoba. In addition, philanthropic organizations led by United Way Winnipeg invested $3.41 million over three years.

“Youth have told us they need safe, comfortable spaces to access free, trauma-informed and culturally safe care,” said Connie Walker, president and CEO, United Way Winnipeg.

“There’s a big demand for mental health services with area youth and we’re hearing that from the school division. As the youth come through the door we’ll be looking at increasing services as fast as we can” said Shaun Funk.

The Brandon Huddle is located at 701 Rosser Avenue.