“Let her know that sharing her feelings with you will never bother you. Feeling permission gives them permission to heal ‘
It’s time to shed some light on children’s mental health.
The week of May 3-9 is Child Mental Health Week (CMHW). Barrie-based New Path Youth & Family Services, a child mental health provider and lead agency for child mental health in Simcoe County, polled everyone in the county about “Shine Green” to raise awareness of its importance to improve the mental health of adolescents.
Whether it’s local communities “glowing green” in City Hall as well as other well-known places like Meridian Square and the Five Points Theater, attracting green guys or sharing tips for mental wellbeing by checking out the free comic – Download Mental Health Bubbles page so kids can color them and then share them on their windows, every little bit helps.
“We have had a great response from Barrie and Springwater politicians, as well as townships across the county, MPs and MPPs who will be posting messages on social media during CMHW. Meridian Place (Memorial Square) and the Five Points Theater will also glow green … literally with green lightbulbs in support of CHMW, ”said Dominika Zapolnik, Manager of New Path Communication.
The city will also make a proclamation and hoist a flag to highlight CMHW.
Adolescent mental health support is more important than ever, Coun. Natalie Harris says the finding of COVID-19 lockdowns and constant changes to the school schedule has negatively impacted many local teenagers.
“I have two children and I always check their general well-being, including their mental health,” she said. Fortunately, talking about mental health as a mental health advocate and as someone who has struggled with mental illness is a pleasant and common topic in our lives. We actually talk about how we talk about the weather; and the way it should be.”
Harris encourages all parents to wear green and green light their homes during Youth Mental Health Week.
“You can start the conversation at any age,” she said. “When your child asks you for help, you don’t need to have all the answers right away. You just need to listen and acknowledge their feelings. Tell them that you will get through their difficult time together and that it is never a bad time with you Children are often afraid to share their feelings because they are not sure how to express them and they don’t want to worry their parents. ”
During Youth Mental Health Week, Harris suggests telling your children that emotions are normal and that you are feeling them too. If you add parents, you can find “emotion wheels” online to start the conversation.
“Most of all, let them know that sharing their feelings with you will never bother you. Allowing them to feel gives them permission to heal,” she said.
The bubbles for mental health comic pages are New Path’s way of continuing the conversation about the importance of mental wellbeing and talking about mental health, explained Elizabeth McKeeman, New Path CEO.
“This has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, and while there is light at the end of the tunnel, sharing tips and building a community continues to be extremely important,” she said.
Families are invited to hang the finished bubbles in their windows and share the pictures on social media using the hashtag # CMHW2021 #shinegreen #kidscantwait and the tag New Path @NewPathYFS.
“Last year we almost went viral. The Shine Green hashtag was very well received and people were posting pictures from outside of Simcoe County. We were thrilled with the response, ”said Zapolnik. “We try to teach people how to share and talk about the importance of mental wellbeing and get help when you need it.”
Approximately one in five children and one in five adolescents across Canada has a diagnosable mental disorder and, if left untreated, can have serious long-term consequences for children or adolescents and their families. Those working in the field believe that raising awareness through CMHW can help reduce stigma and raise awareness of the importance of early stage mental health support.
“Canada’s Mental Health Association (CMHA) Simcoe County is relying on leadership and partnerships with New Path to put children, adolescents and families first, as we know that more than half of all mental illnesses before the age of 18 . Age occur, “said Dr. Valerie Grdisa, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Simcoe County.
“We work together on many initiatives in the region and we know that the more we work together and integrate our efforts, the more likely it is that our children and youth will have a better future,” she added.
An annual survey of the Ipsos Public Affairs Mental Health Index in May 2020 found that two-thirds of Ontarians (67 percent) believed the mental health effects of COVID-19 will be severe and permanent. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents believed that Ontarians had increased mental health and addiction problems due to COVID-19.
Since COVID-19, more than half (59 percent) of parents noticed behavioral changes in their child, ranging from outbursts or extreme irritability to drastic changes in mood, behavior or personality, and insomnia / altered sleep patterns, as well as persistent sadness and more.
Significant changes such as the above in child mental health in Ontario can be signs of mental illness. Previous research has shown that almost 12 percent of children and adolescents before the age of 18 have a serious mental illness that requires treatment from a psychiatrist.
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