World Mental Health Day

October 9, 2009

Making a Difference

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day.  I hosted the 10th annual Mayor’s Initiative on Mental Health.  I was joined by over 70 leaders from across the community.   The theme this year was mental health concerns of children and youth.  We heard from three speakers and viewed a powerful new documentary on children and youth mental health issues developed by AD VOX.

Here are my speaking notes:

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the 10th annual Mayor’s Initiative for World Mental Health Day. Thank you all for coming.  As some of you may remember, this initiative was begun by former Mayor Joe Young, and we have continued the tradition ever since.  It’s tremendous that we have been holding this event for 10 years now! I’d like to thank the organizing committee for all your work in planning this event.

I’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsors:

  • Trellis Mental Health and Developmental Services
  • Canadian Mental Health Association, Grand River Branch
  • Homewood Health Centre
  • Self Help Alliance
  • Community Torchlight Distress Centre Wellington/Dufferin

Over the years, I know this event has helped to inform and engage community leaders about mental health issues.  Certainly, I find that every year I learn something new and gain new perspectives about mental health.  I know that this year will be no exception, as our topic is mental health for children and youth.

I want to recognize and thank the three speakers who will be offering their perspectives on this issue:

  • Dr. Martha Rogers, Director of Education, Upper Grand District School Board
  • Ross Kirkconnell, Executive Director, Guelph Family Health Team; and,
  • Pamela Borghesan, Assistant Crown Attorney, County of Wellington.

I’d also like to thank AD VOX Wellington.  AD VOX has made a difference in this community by giving a voice to the issue of mental health for children and youth.  It is so important that we talk about this issue as a community.  We have come a long way in our understanding of mental illness, but there is still a stigma attached to it – and that is particularly true when it comes to mental illness in children and young people.

A recent Globe and Mail article cited some interesting statistics.  It said that at least 70% of people with a mental illness report that symptoms began in their youth. But 38% of Canadian parents said they would not tell anyone – or seek help – if their child was suffering from mental health problems. Among parents, there is a sense of embarrassment and guilt. Many parents fear that a mental illness diagnosis will brand their child for life, and hamper future success. Or, they might dismiss it as just a phase.

The good news is, according to doctors, the vast majority of those who get sick from mental illness recover – just like those with physical illnesses. Treatment and intervention are key to that recovery. So we need to reduce the stigma that prevents parents and young people from seeking treatment.

In our community, we have a lot going for us when it comes to reducing that stigma. We have AD VOX, which is working hard to improve awareness in our community.  We have this event, where so many local leaders come together to learn about and discuss the issue.  And, we have many local services to help parents and families who need it – including the organizations that are sponsoring this event today.

So once again, I want to thank all of you for your attendance and your participation today.  You are helping to make a difference for some of our most vulnerable citizens – children and youth.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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