Young people between the age of 12 and 25 in the Haut-Saint-Laurent can now turn to an accessible new service designed specifically to respond to issues that may be affecting their lives.
Officials from the Montérégie-West Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSSMO), as well as Huntingdon MNA Carole Mallette, were present for the inauguration of the Aire Ouverte satellite centre at the Carrefour Jeunesse Emploi in Huntingdon on November 25. Members of the Aire Ouverte de la Montérégie-ouest team, which includes a nurse, special educator, sexologist, counsellors, and a social worker, were also on hand to introduce visitors to the new centre.
CISSSMO assistant director Dominic Pilon said the opening of the satellite office in the Haut-Saint-Laurent can be seen as an indication of the direction they are hoping to take within the Montérégie-ouest region. “This is a new way of reaching out to young people,” he said, noting that each Aire Ouverte centre is created in consultation with area youth. “Each one is unique,” he continued, adding that the services offered for free and without wait times at the Huntingdon location may not be the same as those provided at the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield centre which opened last June.
“Aire Ouverte appeals to a clientele that does not respond to the programs that we have in place already, including school nurses, CLSCs, etc.,” said Myriam Tessier, the manager for the regional Aire Ouverte program. The centre is non-traditional, where youth can access services geared to their needs using comfortable methods. “Young people will not pick up the phone,” laughed Tessier, while explaining it is possible to reach a counselor by text, Messenger, phone, and in person during walk-in hours. “The goal is for young people to know who to reach out to, and where to go.”
The Huntingdon location opened its doors on November 5, and the team has already responded to numerous calls and messages. Youth can speak directly with a counselor at any time by calling or texting 1-888-440-AIRE (2473). Walk-in hours are on Mondays from 2 to 6 p.m. and on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m., but flexibility and confidentiality are built into the Aire Ouverte approach, and services can be accessed by demand throughout the week.
More information is available on the Aire Ouverte de la Montérégie-ouest Facebook page, as well as on the CISSSMO website: santemonteregie.qc.ca/oust/aire-ouverte.