North York General opens first of its kind outpatient mental health centre for youth

On Wednesday, September 4, over 250 supporters gathered to mark the opening of Phillips House, the new home of North York General Hospital’s child and adolescent outpatient mental health programs. The redeveloped 15,000-square foot Georgian-style mansion, located up the street from the hospital, reimagines how the hospital treats young patients facing a number of mental health conditions.

Through the generosity of community donations in partnership with the North York General Foundation and Hospital, the building and landscape have been transformed into a beautiful, serene space to promote healing and well-being.

A priority of the redesign was to create a warm, home-like setting to help alleviate some of the stress and stigma patients face when accessing mental health care services. Untreated mental health conditions can result in lifelong negative health effects and access to care at an early stage is a predictor of improved long-term health outcomes.

“Children and youth are particularly vulnerable and often overlooked patients in our healthcare system,” says Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO, North York General Hospital. “By moving mental health care out of a traditional hospital setting, Phillips House is changing the way we care for our community, giving vulnerable patients access to the right mental health care services when they’re needed most.”

Phillips House provides centralized access to a number of outpatient services for treatments and programming related to mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, adjustment and conduct disorders, substance abuse and other mental health conditions.

The facility is also home to one of the largest hospital-based eating disorder programs in southern Ontario, serving Toronto, York Region, Peel Region and beyond. Patients at Philips House have access to a communal kitchen where they can cook and eat together with their families, as they build healthy relationships with food.

“From the very beginning,  donors across all generations, seized the opportunity to dramatically alter the care experience of our children and youth,” says Terry Pursell, President and CEO, North York General Foundation. “We are profoundly grateful to the many individuals, families and corporations who made this house and healing garden possible.”

One of the leading community-based contributors to the redevelopment of Phillips House is The Maddie Project, a group dedicated to bringing awareness to the mental health needs of children, reducing the stigma of adolescent depression and making mental health care services more accessible to adolescents in need. Set up in memory of Madeline “Maddie” Grace German Coulter, the group helped fund Maddie’s Healing Garden, a 1.2-acre green space surrounding Phillips House. When all landscaping phases are complete, the garden will provide patients with a calming natural setting for therapy, meditation, and physical activity.

“This facility and garden not only serve as a beautiful legacy for an incredibly special young lady but are also fundamentally changing and saving the lives of young people by providing an unprecedented community of care,” said Nicole German, Maddie’s mom and founder of The Maddie Project. “These young people are our future, so we must provide them with all the support they need and arm them with the right tools as they grow.”