The Grove Wellington Guelph, the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington and The Children’s Foundation of Guelph Wellington hosted a youth mental health forum on Tuesday, September 13 at The Frank Hasenfratz Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing in Guelph. The forum brought together 300 youth, parents, caregivers, and service providers to actively engage in important discussions around supporting the wellness of youth in the Guelph Wellington community.
As it stands approximately one in six youth, or 140,300, contemplate suicide yearly. This forum was a critical discussion on how the community can make changes. This number highlights the importance of this forum and why the community, local organizations, and governments need to collaborate to make a difference in the lives of youth.
The forum heard remarks from Michael Tibollo, Minister of Mental Health and Addiction, who encouraged the community to think outside the box when it comes to our mental health resources.
“We can not keep doing things the same way over and over and expecting change,” said Minister Tibollo. “Community is where the work should be done, not in the hospitals,”
Dr. Joanna Henderson, Executive Director of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario, also spoke at the forum and gave staggering statistics on how local youth have been struggling. Indicating only 25 to 30 per cent of youth with mental health and substance use challenges have access to specialized services and many do not get access at the time of need, Dr. Henderson explained the community needs to be accountable to youth and by working as a community, every member can help youth thrive.
“Organizations have to work together to meet the interest of youth,” said Dr. Henderson. “Youth cannot wait.”
Dr. Henderson stressed the importance of measuring the impact of youth services such as The Grove Wellington Guelph, The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington and The Children’s Foundation Guelph Wellington. Measuring the impact of these organizations will signify a commitment to moving forward.
The forum included a panel of government representatives, members of school boards and local organizations, as well as youth, who gave tangible steps for how the community can address the mental health crisis.