A mental health clinic offering drop-in services for area youth was launched Friday by the Youth Services Bureau.

The new YSB Youth Mental Health Walk-In Clinic will provide free, bilingual counselling services to youth aged 12 to 20 and their parents.

It's designed to prevent youth from developing mental illness.

"Seventy per cent of mental illness has its onset in adolescence and we know that when we intervene early, we can literally change the future," said Alex Munter, executive director of the YSB. "We know that providing support is often the ingredient that can help families avoid crises."

Munter said the program will make it easier for youth to access mental health services, lower wait times and reduce barriers associated with treating mental health in youth. Currently, there is an average 3-month wait time for youth and families seeking counselling.

The clinic is located at 2301 Carling Ave., near the corner of Wentworth Avenue. It's open on Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Norman Fetterley