First local integrated crisis centre opening to help those facing mental health and addiction struggles

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Waterloo region’s first ever integrated crisis centre is set to open its doors July 30 and for Mike and Fiona Roth of Waterloo, Ont., it’s an important milestone for the community.

Their daughter, Kaitlyn, died by suicide in April 2022 just four days shy of her 21st birthday. 

“When she started to struggle with mental health, we were faced with many barriers in accessing care,” Mike said. “Long wait times at the emergency room, where we learned, is not a suitable place to treat mental illness.”

Officials with the Kitchener centre say they hope the space will better accommodate people who need mental health help.

Stemming from a partnership between Thresholds and the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington, the centre aims to provide specialized care for individuals experiencing mental health and substance-use crises.

It will pose as an alternate destination to hospitals, diverting individuals away from overwhelmed emergency rooms to a more suitable environment for comprehensive care.

A group of seven smiling people at a podium
Local dignitaries, clinic officials and Kaitlyn Roth’s parents at the media event to launch Waterloo Region’s first integrated crisis centre on June 25. (Karis Mapp/CBC)

The centre is located at 298 Lawrence Avenue in Kitchener and features home-like decor, a kitchen and five separate rooms for patient use.

The goal is to eventually serve the community on a 24/7 basis, but until funding is secured, it will be open Tuesday to Saturday from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The estimated cost to run a fully funded clinic of its kind is just under $3 million.

“When people are in a mental health and addictions crisis, they need a quiet, calm space designed specifically for them based on trauma-informed principles of care,” Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington CEO Helen Fishburn said during a media preview event.

A furniture setup with a fireplace
One of the community spaces at Waterloo Region’s first ever integrated crisis centre in Kitchener. (Karis Mapp/CBC)

Anyone over 18 years old can admit themselves to the free clinic where there will be “skilled and compassionate staff from both CMHA and Thresholds, as well as a number of other mental health and addictions providers, locally,” Fishburn said. 

She adds staff will be from different disciplines to best provide the kind of care people need, including walk-in support, crisis intervention services and referrals. 

Remembering Kaitlyn

Kaitlyn Roth is remembered by her parents as a bright, compassionate and kind-hearted young woman who naturally made others feel heard and welcome in any situation. 

She was a third-year student at the University of Waterloo who had dreams of eventually working with children with special needs. 

Kaitlyn’s father Mike says when seeking treatment for her mental health battle, there seemed to be a checkbox system that she didn’t fit into.

“The tragedy is that Kaitlyn so badly wanted to get better and go back to school,” her father said. “We’ve been advocating since 2022 for better mental healthcare in the region and beyond. We are motivated by making sure no one goes through what we went through in getting care for their loved ones.”

A private room with two chairs and a table.
One of the private rooms at Waterloo Region’s first ever integrated crisis centre in Kitchener. (Karis Mapp/CBC)

Mike and Fiona were present at the centre’s media event, which included a tour of the facility. They were joined by members of the Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services, Waterloo regional police and local elected political figures.

Waterloo’s MPP Catherine Fife told CBC News she presented a petition with more than 7,000 signatures at Queen’s Park in the fall session, calling on the government to establish models of mental health like the centre. 

“We’ve had some traction with the associate minister of mental health, Minister [Michael A.] Tibollo, who has made some overtures and promises that funding for projects like this, which divert people away from the emergency room, is the way of the future,” Fife said.

A girl posing for a picture
Kaitlyn Roth died in April 2022. (Submitted: Mike and Fiona Roth )

In the meantime, the Roths say they will continue working to keep Kaitlyn’s legacy alive. 

They say they hope to fill in the gaps of the mental healthcare system by inspiring hope and compassion in children and adults struggling with their mental health through the Kaitlyn Roth Memorial Foundation. 

“This clinic offers a different philosophy, which is trauma informed,” Fiona Roth said. “Treatment of mental illness needs to be seen like any other disease, like cancer or diabetes. It’s a disease and people are struggling with the disease and mental illness.”


If you or someone you know is struggling, here’s where to get help:

If you’re worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs: 

  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Purposelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Anger.
  • Recklessness.
  • Mood changes.

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