Sexual health clinics geared to youth

The youth of Hope are able to access clinics dedicated to their sexual health in a friendly and confidential setting

Sue Lawrence, Nurse Practitioner (NP) was on hand to chat with The Hope Standard about a new clinic geared toward the youth of Hope.

“The idea of this clinic started originally with the GP for me concept (a concept that attaches unattached patients with local general practitioners.) The percentage of youth in Hope is significantly lower than other places in the province with only 22 per cent of the population ranging from ages 12 to 26, and a lot them remain unattached from a G.P,” said Lawrence.

Clinics in the downtown area are often bustling with people, which leaves the likelihood that youth wanting to access sexual health services would encounter friends and relatives, potentially preventing them from accessing the clinic, for fear of losing their anonymity according to Lawrence.

“Dr. Josh Greggain (Site Medical Director for the Fraser Canyon Hospital) and I thought, why not start a walk-in clinic on Tuesdays?” said Lawrence.

The clinic caters to youth aged 12 to 26, offering free birth control and free iud’s. Lawrence is able to look after all health concerns including referrals, pregnancy, mental health, and offer free counselling to young people who need an ear. They started the clinic in September and are hoping to gain more exposure in the community.

“Youth are facing a lot of adult stress and dealing with anxiety and depression. Stress from work expectations, exposure to social media and online porn, suicide, and self-harm are some of the current issues they are facing,” said Lawrence. “I want to create a multi-disciplinary setting that gives them exposure to coping mechanisms like mindfulness training.”

Mindfulness training encourages people to live in a state of active and open attention to the present. When people are mindful they can observe their thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as being good or bad. Mindfulness means living in the moment and practicing this principle can really help with anxiety and depression according to Lawrence.

“My dream eventually is to create a place where people can come and hang out and have access to the things they need — I want to create a place where they can use the computer, work on a resume, and have someone to turn to for help.”

The Youth Walk-in Clinic is offered on Tuesday’s from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for all youth aged 12 to 26 years at the Fraser Canyon Clinic (222 Wallace Street.) A clinic will also be available with Lawrence, every other Tuesday for HSS students at the school. More information is available to students through school counsellors.

Kim Roberts, Regional Public Health Nurse (RPHN) also runs a youth sexual health clinic for people aged 12 to 22 years at the Hope Health Unit (444  Park Street) on Monday’s from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Roberts provides free birth control, STI testing and treatment, pregnancy tests, healthy sexuality, harm reduction, and help to stop smoking.

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