Team Crossroads Children’s Mental Health Centre runs again!

When we address mental health issues early on, the skills kids build can have lifelong impact. We work with the whole family and whoever else the child identifies as important- teachers, neighbors, community members. We rally around the child and their family to make sure they are supported and get the best possible care,” says Natasha McBrearty, associate executive director and runner.

Training creates profound connection

McBrearty met Scott Jordan through the marathon clinic at the Running Room in 2018. 

“30 kilometres creates opportunities to deeply connect, to know and appreciate each other and learn what is important to us. Crossroads really hit me, Natasha is such a fierce advocate, and I wished this existed when I was a kid!” shares Scott. “The skills and tools they share create life-long learning, and they are great for parents too! They have such a holistic view. It is so impressive! They moved me to raise funds for them.” 

“Motivation can be tricky, pushing ourselves to ‘just show up’ has helped our team get over the hump of getting started. Marathoning is a long game, just like life. Some days are great and other days are not. We are there for each other through all of it.” 

“This year we will be running separately and cheering each other on. I will be starting near home and my wife, who is wonderfully supportive, will pick me up at the end so I can do a linear run. Loops can be boring, but this will keep the track feeling fresh,” says Jordan.

Crossroads has a champion to celebrate!

Scott Jordan is running the half marathon this year to prepare for a race in Hamilton in November and qualify for the Boston Marathon next year. Jordan started running in his 40s and has encouraged many others along the way. During the pandemic Jordan has kept up with his training and cheered others on to push through to meet their goals. By sending text messages and arranging to meet, he and fellow runners have 5-minute socially distant hangouts on the route or safe air-fives as they pass each other. 

“Running and walking is for physical health AND mental health. The flexibility to schedule and design your own track can be an opportunity to be creative, for instance I get to do one long track and be picked up rather than a 21km loop,” says Jordan. “The Scotiabank Charity Challenge really helps me push because it isn’t just for me, Crossroads Children Mental Health Centre deserves me to push myself just like they do everyday.” 

Crossroads staff is now running with the Running Room and look to Jordan to provide humour and energy as motivation and energy wanes. Looking forward to the run or to the social element of seeing each other out of the house, even from two metres apart, feels rewarding. 

“As spring comes, I am looking forward to setting a goal and making it happen. Running can be mentally and physically challenging, just like life, and we are there for each other through the easy and the hard parts,” shares Jordan.

Since COVID, demand is high

Children 12 and under, including infants and toddlers, can receive free services at Crossroads. Services are tailored to each family context and delivered in the child’s natural environment like school or home. Crossroads also offers a walk-in clinic, now online and in-person at their central Ottawa location. This provides a rapid response to families who are concerned about their child or their parenting. Staff provide practical supports like helping caregivers set age-appropriate expectations, better understand challenging behaviors, problem-solve and teach their child skills. For a child dealing with anxiety, approaches like consistency, predictable routines, empathy, and helping the child generate and implement solutions can make a BIG difference. 

Crossroads is a positive and welcoming space that celebrates diversity and delivers culturally responsive services and LGBTQI+ identities. 

This past year everyone at Crossroads adapted to ensure services were as accessible as possible while staying safe. They shifted to virtual, but there are many children who can not engage with virtual learning. So, they adapted again and developed protocols as quickly as possible to offer in-home support. 

“Children who are not able to participate virtually cannot be left out,” emphasized McBrearty. 

Innovation was sparked to decrease barriers to counselling

Access to counselling is now easier than ever with Counselling Connect: This online connection service was developed during COVID. Now quick access to a free counselling session, including for addiction, is available for children, youth, adults, and older adults through the 23 participating partner agencies here in the Ottawa area. Counselling Connect also offers counselling to specific communities:

  • LGBT2SQ+
  • African, Caribbean and Black
  • Indigenous

Since launching in April 2020, more than 6,000 appointments have been accessed through Counselling Connect. 

Jordan’s training tip: if you miss the conversation of running mates, try out a playlist with the right beats-per-minute, it can really help keep spirits and pace up. 

JOIN or DONATE TO TEAM CROSSROADS and help them meet the mental health needs of Ottawa’s children and families!