Let's Put Our Heads Together

Toronto, May 31, 2011 - The Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health unites education, mental health, community and health sectors in a movement to promote the priority of social and emotional well-being as a part of healthy child development in Ontario and to make it a priority that drives integrated public policy in the province.

"Mental health is the number one issue in schools today as identified by our teachers, principals, superintendents, directors of education and trustees," said, Catherine Fife, spokesperson for the Coalition and president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association. "With young lives being so dramatically affected there is a need to accelerate our efforts across all sectors to make sure supports and services are there for children and youth struggling with mental health issues. It is just not acceptable to have 1 in 6 young people with no access to the help they need. Schools have an important role to play in changing how we work and act together to make situations better for children, youth and their families."

On June 2, 2011 from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, the Coalition is holding a Summit on Children and Youth Mental Health at the Sheraton Centre Hotel, 123 Queen Street West, Toronto. The Summit is designed to bring public focus to bear on this critical area but, more importantly, to ignite action that will radically improve the life chances of children and youth who suffer from mental health issues. The Coalition recognizes that no one group or organization can do this work alone. It is a shared responsibility that will take a concerted and collaborative effort to bring this pervasive health issue out of the shadows.

Keynote speakers at the Summit include: Valerie Pringle; the Honourable Michael J. L. Kirby, chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada; Dr. Ian Manion, Executive Director for the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO; and Dr. Bruce Ferguson, Director of the Community Health Services Resource Group at The Hospital for Sick Children.

For more than 70% of adults with mental health illness, the onset of difficulties occurred before the age of 18. Currently up to 80% of children and youth will not receive treatment for mental health difficulties. The gaps in services and supports are significant in the general population and even more so for Aboriginal, northern and rural communities. Many Francophone communities are especially underserved in terms of access to services in French.

An integrated approach that involves collaboration across all the sectors that serve children and youth is essential. The Coalition aims to be a catalyst for province-wide change, to be a model for how we can work differently and effectively together to improve, in a positive and sustained way, supports and services for children and youth wherever they live in Ontario.

Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health

INAUGURAL MEMBERS

Association des conseils scolaires des �coles publiques de l'Ontario
Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens
Association franco-ontarienne des conseils scolaires catholiques
Association of Chief Psychologists with Ontario School Boards
Catholic Principals' Council of Ontario
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Children's Mental Health Ontario
Council of Ontario Directors of Education
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
Hospital for Sick Children
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Offord Centre for Child Studies
Ontario Association of Children Aid Societies
Ontario Association of School Board Chief Social Workers
Ontario Association of Social Workers
Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association
Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO
Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association
Ontario Principals' Council
Ontario Public School Boards' Association
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Ontario Student Trustees' Association
Ontario Teachers' Federation
Parents for Children's Mental Health
Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health
School Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Consortium

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For more information, please contact:

Jeff Sprang
OPSBA Communications
(416) 340-2540

3/31/2011