Mental health is the number one issue today in our schools and in our communities. Families, schools and organizations that serve children and youth know they must work and act together to change the world as it is experienced by young people struggling with mental health. The introduction of Ontario’s Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy with a focus on children and youth was a good start. It needs to be sustained and expanded. It needs to be the strategy that changes the stark statistics showing 1 in 5 young people struggling with mental health and only 1 in 6 who need help actually getting that help.
The Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health unites education, mental health, community and health sectors and the voices of families and youth in a movement to promote the priority of social and emotional well-being as a part of healthy child development in Ontario. The Coalition is committed to making sure that Ontario gets it right as its Strategy continues to roll out.
The Coalition is holding its second annual Summit on Children and Youth Mental Health at the Allstream Centre, 105 Princes’ Boulevard in Toronto. The Summit is designed to deepen knowledge about mental health among all those who work with children and youth, and to highlight programs and services that have been proven to work. Delegates will interact with the Ministers responsible for the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy and offer advice from an “on-the-ground” perspective.
Keynote speakers at the Summit include: six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes; Dr. Kwame McKenzie, psychiatrist, advocate, academic and social commentator; and Dr. Christopher Lalonde, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria.
The topic of bullying and mental health is explored by experts Dr. Wendy Craig and Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt. The impact of acquired brain injury features high profile speakers including Dr. Charles Tator and former NHL player Wayne Primeau.
An integrated approach that involves collaboration across all the sectors that serve children and youth is essential to creating positive change. On Friday, October 26 from 1:30-2:30 pm, Ontario’s key Ministers responsible for the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions strategy will have an opportunity to talk to and hear from those who work with children and youth across the province. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Children and Youth Services; Laurel Broten, Minister of Education; Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long Term Care; Glen Murray, Minister of Training Colleges and Universities have been invited to participate in this dialogue.
The Summit will host a powerful Student Art Exhibition Just Beneath the Surface created jointly by the students of Kettle and Stony Point First Nations from North Lambton Secondary School, Lambton Kent District School Board and by the students of Stephen Lewis Secondary School students from the Peel District School Board. Student artists will be available for interviews.
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.
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