“My name is Dahee and I am a nurse with the Youth Addictions Stabilization Unit (YASU). I have been a nurse for three years and I have been working with Marymound for almost three years.

I’d initially decided that I was going to become a psychiatric nurse because I have had a lot of contact and a lot of experience with vulnerable youth and youth that maybe have had contact with child welfare system. I did notice that there appeared to be gap in services. I wanted to do what I could to give back and reach out to the community in a tangible way, and to give back in a way that felt realistic and personal to me.

Our role is we provide supportive care to youth that are struggling with severe and persistent substance use. We provide education, we do a lot of mental health, physical health assessments, family work and liaising with community resources and family to formulate a plan for improved or supported functioning in the community after they discharge. We provide lots of education regarding harm reduction like safer sex kits.

A lot of times the youth that we are receiving haven’t had contact with their supports for a very long time or their adherence to everyday routines is so disrupted because they’ve been on the run or maybe they’ve had multiple placements. Sometimes kids come in and this is the most stable placement they’ve had for a while, so it gives us the opportunity to figure out what they might need that they just haven’t got around to in the community and then try to get all that.

It can be really hard to meet all those little parts of their lives. Are you getting the level of education that you are satisfied with, are you getting your physical health needs met, have you seen a dentist or an eye doctor? Have you been having ailments that you would like to mention to a doctor if given the opportunity but you just haven’t had the opportunity to because you’ve been so on the go? And how can we kind of meet those needs while you’re here? Let’s think of your seven days here as an opportunity for us to help you meet all these factors in your life and complete all those needs before you are out into the community, so that we can ease the burden and ease the stress of having to survive as a young person. 

I am a big believer in psychosocial rehabilitation. I want the youth to be able to make informed decisions about their own lives, whether that decision is I’m not ready to make permanent or such concrete changes to my substance use or the level of functioning that I am currently at. Harm reduction is to meet clients where they are at and say okay, if you are not quite ready to be abstinent, or if you’re not quite ready to make the changes to your use that you know the people around you are advocating for, then what can we do to meet you where you’re at right now so that you’re practicing a little bit safer.

And at the end of the day we have to support youth in whatever decision they choose and we have to 

honour kids when they say this is my desired level of functioning and I’m happy being this way and I’m happy, you know, making these choices in my life. We have to support them the best way that we can and harm reduction plays a big role in that.”