In early March, the Bell Let’s Talk and Montreal-based Graham Boeckh Foundation announced a $10 million partnership to support integrated youth mental health services across Canada. This partnership is part of an ongoing commitment to 2025. Started by Anthony Boeckh, the Graham Boeckh Foundation is a tribute to his eldest son, who died from schizophrenia complications when he was just 22, while studying at Queens’ University.

Another of the Boeckh family’s three sons, Ian Boeckh, is the President of the Graham Boeckh Foundation and was on hand for the announcement that included Mary Deacon, Bell Let’s Talk Chair, Quebec Premier Francois Legault, Bell President and CEO, Mirko Bibic and Pablo Rodriguez, Leader of The Government in the House of Commons.

Ian begins our conversation; “Most mental illness is first manifested in young people younger than 25, and our programs are tailored to that group. If we can begin treatment early, it has been proven that there is a chance to change the trajectory of lives for the better.”  Ian continues; “We found that there were impediments to young people and their families in getting help. Long wait times meant that a young person’s mental health deteriorated while waiting for treatment.”

Graham Boeckh FoundationGraham Boeckh Foundation

(Left to right) Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk, Benoit Dorais, Executive Committee Chair, City of Montréal, François Legault, Québec Premier, Ian Boeckh, President and a Director of the Graham Boeckh Foundation, Karine Moses, Vice Chair Québec, Bell ; Lionel Carmant, Minister for Health and Social Services, Mirko Bibic, President and CEO, BCE and Bell, Pablo Rodriguez, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Québec Lieutenant

“The Integrated Youth Service programs we catalyze are youth-centred with common core services that can be adapted to community needs. For example, downtown youth with mental illness issues are often homeless. We have a different set of circumstances in suburban communities; and smaller rural areas are different again – as are Inuit mental health needs in Northern communities. What is common to all is the need to have rapid access to youth-friendly services. Previously there was a patchwork of organizations with a fragmented system full of refusals.”

“The majority of young people who are stressed or struggling may simply need counselling or vocational services. A smaller number will need more intensive and specialized services, and it’s important that they don’t get caught up in a busy hospital emergency ward which is set up to deal with traumas, heart attacks and not mental health issues.”

“The Integrated Youth Services ‘one-stop-shops’ are youth and family-friendly, have low stigma and there are no refusals. The youth hubs incorporate a defined set of principles: youth and family participation, integration of services, continuity of care from ages 12 – 25, easily accessible points of care, incorporation of online portals and other technologies. All this is complemented by data collection, evaluation and research for continuous improvement. We at the Foundation see Integrated Youth Services as a set of principles and methods that can be implemented in different ways across jurisdictions and types of communities”

“Integrated Youth Service takes a holistic approach that includes mental health and substance use services, primary care, help to get youth back into school or employment, providing housing as needed, life skills training and other recovery-oriented services. With this approach, the services are always geared to the needs of the person – we don’t try to fit them into a mould.”

“The Graham Boeckh Foundation is a results oriented organization. To date, we have catalyzed four large Integrated Youth Service projects; including ACCESS Open Minds, Foundry in B.C.; Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario and Aire Ouverte here in Quebec.”

“Working with provincial governments, enables the creation of branded provincial models of Integrated Youth Services that can be scaled-up to all of the communities in the province. So far, over 50 integrated youth service hubs have opened or are under development Ultimately, we want to see integrated youth hubs in 200 – 300 communities across Canada.

We’re excited to work with Bell. The partnership brings together two organizations that are passionate and knowledgeable about mental health. Our foundation has extensive experience with Integrated Youth Services; Bell has important capacity to create awareness so that youth and families know where to get help.”

“Overall, the partnership will accelerate the pan-Canadian movement for Integrated Youth Services with the goal that youth everywhere in Canada have quick and easy access to effective services in their own communities.”

Bell Let’s Talk was a five year project to promote Mental Health Awareness initiated on January 29th, 2010 with $50 million donation from Bell. In 2015 the project was extended for an additional five years with a goal raising $100 million for Mental Health funding. This January 2020 announcement extends Bell Let’s Talk for another five years; with a donation goal of $150 million to be raised by 2025. Ian Boeckh, his family and the staff of the Graham Boeckh Foundation are delighted to work with Bell Let’s Talk and are excited about the potential for the partnership.

For more information about the Graham Boeckh Foundation, please visit: