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Child and youth mental health issues impact entire family

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The mental health of a young person is equally important as their physical health. This reality can be lost in a world of competing demands on our health care system. The statistics suggest that one in five children and youth in Ontario will experience an issue related to their mental health and that five out of six (almost 85 per cent) will not receive the treatment they need for various reasons.

Child and youth mental health issues not only impact the individual but their families as well. According to research findings published in Children’s Mental Health Ontario’s Annual Report Card, 80 per cent of parents/caregivers who participated reported that their child/youth’s mental health impacted their work life and 81 per cent of siblings feel the impact by having to take on additional responsibilities because of their sibling’s mental health issues.

When a young person is struggling with their mental health, it can be as subtle as a shift in their day-to-day behaviours or obvious as a threat to harm themselves. They often experience feelings of shame and confusion about their challenges. If left unaddressed, mental health concerns can worsen and impact a young person’s ability to succeed. The lack of awareness related to child and youth mental health issues and limited available resources impact the ability to intervene with the right care at the right time.

To raise awareness regarding the importance of addressing child and youth mental health and to reduce the associated stigma, May 5-11 is designated as Children’s Mental Health Week in Ontario. Individuals can help support mental health awareness through the Green Ribbon Campaign. Green ribbons show child and youth mental health matters. Ribbons will be available at Chimo Youth & Family Services during the week at 107 Lindsay St. South (far west entrance off George St. north side of building) for anyone wishing to pick one up.

Chimo Youth & Family Services is an accredited child and youth mental health agency that is primarily funded under the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Chimo offers a variety of supports and services to young people and their families including crisis and walk-in services. For more information regarding child and youth mental health visit www.cmho.org.

More information regarding services can be found at www.chimoyouth.ca or by calling (705) 324-3300.

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Teresa Rye, CYW, RSSW is Director of Administration at Chimo in Lindsay.

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