There are half a million kids in Ontario coping with mental health issues. That’s why Stevenson, Waplak & Associates (SWA), Quinte Children’s Homes (QCH) and Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning (AAPL) join with others across the province in marking Children’s Mental Health Week, May 4 – 10, 2015.
One in five Ontario children and youth struggles with a mental health problem – examples include anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, eating disorders, psychosis and bi-polar disorder. Without treatment, these problems may lead to family conflict, failing at school, drug abuse and suicide.
In order to increase awareness, schools and youth mental health organizations across the province mark Children’s Mental Health Week with events including green ribbon campaigns, workshops, schoolyard walks and information nights.
At AAPL, students and staff are working on art projects to mark this important week. “We are doing the faces of mental health masks for each of the students,” says program coordinator Cara Pinchuk. “One of our students has also designed t-shirts that together spell Mental for Mental Health. There will be lots of discussion around the subject as well.”
Children’s Mental Health Week not only increases awareness of the signs of child and youth mental health problems, it also helps to decrease the stigma of mental illness and let sufferers and their families know that treatment is available.
“Our school as well as SWA as a whole is always committed to the improvement of our clients’ mental health,” says Pinchuk. “We strive to emphasize and model the importance of healthy eating, exercising, personal growth and positive relationships.” “We support the concepts of self awareness.”
As SWA provides mental health services to children and youth each and every day, building awareness in the community is an ongoing focus. In this light, staff members are gearing up once again to participate in the RBC Run for the Kids, which fundraises to support youth mental health initiatives.
“We run to raise awareness on mental health issues with kids,” says Jennifer Mulville, health and wellbeing supervisor. “We run to role model all the health benefits of being active – mind, body and soul. We run to support and encourage team-building skills amongst staff. We run to put our words and support into action.” The SWA team also includes program supervisor Angela Cross, program lead Meaghan Keating and program coordinator Melissa Hulshof.
This year’s RBC Run for the Kids is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2015. Last year, in the run’s second year, 7,100 people participated. The family-friendly event has raised over $3 million for youth mental health since its inception. Participants may choose from a 5K walk/run, a 7K walk/run and a 15K run. The event starts and ends at Mel Lastman Square, 5100 Yonge St in Toronto.