Our History


A young Toronto woman founded Young Ones – Breaking Barriers Organization as a result of her own experiences with the mental health and addiction systems. These experiences brought to light the barriers many youth encounter when attempting to recover and access treatment, including age, cost and availability. She also witnessed how stigma and discrimination can prevent youth from reaching out for help or staying in treatment. She believed that in order to improve the mental health system it was important to have others with lived experience involved in the treatment and recovery process. Driven by her desire to ensure no youth had to face the barriers she faced in treatment, she founded Young Ones in August 2011.

Young Ones is fighting treatment barriers and stigma

Age: The definition of youth in mental health and addiction services varies, which can cause youth to bounce around from program to program as they age. Young Ones is there for youth ages 13 to 24 to encourage early intervention and long-term stability.

Cost: Private outpatient mental health and addiction services can cost more than $100 per session. Young Ones recognizes that not all families or youth can afford this cost for a variety of reasons. Young Ones provides youth with 10 free therapy sessions with the potential for more, at no cost, if the need is there.

Availability: Wait lists for services can range from weeks to years. Many youth cannot wait that long to see a therapist. Young Ones has no wait list and youth can often see a therapist within 48 hours or at their earliest convenience.

Alternative Treatment: Some youth do not want traditional talk therapy or they may want to have more options for their recovery journey. Young Ones offers innovative programs; peer support and mentorship that provide a different type of support that involves using the knowledge and support of individuals who have lived mental health and addiction experience.

Stigma: Stigma can come from family, friends, treatment providers, strangers and even from the youth. Young Ones seeks to eliminate this stigma by providing education to the public and professionals through lectures, presentations, workshops and blog posts.

We are a consumer-survivor organization

Lived Experience webYoung Ones is a consumer-survivor organization. A consumer-survivor is defined as someone who has consumed and/or survived mental health services. Another common term is “lived experience.”
Young Ones prides itself in being an organization that is largely made up of professionals and volunteers who identify as consumer-survivors. This allows Young Ones to provide a very unique perspective to our programs and has ensured that everyone involved with Young Ones comes with a strong passion for individual and social change.