Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) announced the expansion of its Adolescent Mental Health Literacy Program to four additional Ontario school boards and two private schools:
Thames Valley District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Toronto District School Board, Waterloo Region District School Board, St. Clement’s School and Upper Canada College.
President and CEO
Good afternoon everyone. My name is Glenna Raymond, President and CEO of Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. I am so pleased to welcome all of you here today to be a part of this special announcement to enhance Adolescent Mental Health literacy in Ontario.
We know that the first symptoms and onset of major mental health disorders develop in adolescence and early adulthood, but that individuals in this age group are the least likely to access mental health services.
Research shows that 1 in 5 children and youth under the age of 19 suffers from some form of psychiatric disorder. That is 560,000 youth in Ontario alone. Yet 75% of those children and youth have never obtained the specialized treatment they need.*
As a public hospital that offers specialized treatment for adolescents to seniors, we at Ontario Shores regularly see patients come into our care that were not identified with mental illness at an early age.
As health care providers, educators, and of course parents, we all want to create a place where young people can flourish, feel safe and cared for and help them in achieving their goals. Part of that is creating a society that supports young people when they face struggles whether they are physical or mental. We are so proud of this program and our partners in helping bring mental health curriculum to our high schools. Through education and awareness we can help educators and students identify issues earlier and help direct them to the help they need. We can also foster an environment that supports and doesn’t discriminate against those young people facing mental health struggles.
At Ontario Shores we are committed to advancing and integrating the mental health care system, engaging in research and teaching, raising awareness of mental illness and …..reducing stigma. This work brings us here today.
School is an important place in young peoples’ lives and their experiences at school directly and indirectly impact their mental health.
Through multi sector collaborations like we are showcasing today, we can create a safe environment for youth to learn more about mental health and, if needed, to seek treatment and recover their best health.
Today’s event celebrates how we are one step closer to providing enhanced mental health literacy for youth. In October, Ontario Shores launched the Adolescent Mental Health Literacy Program. We partnered with Dr. Stan Kutcher, a leading adolescent psychiatrist, to bring mental health curriculum into the classrooms of 17 schools across 4 school boards: Durham District School Board, Durham Catholic District School Board, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board.
This initiative sparked overwhelming interest from school boards across Ontario showing a need and a desire for this type of education and awareness. Today we are pleased to announce we are expanding the adolescent mental health literacy program to 4 new school boards and 2 private schools. We are so pleased to welcome:
• Toronto District School Board
• Toronto Catholic District School Board
• Thames Valley District School Board
• Waterloo Regional School Board
• St. Clement’s School
• Upper Canada College
As well, we are very excited to announce that our original four school boards have made a further commitment to this initiative and have sent additional staff to be trained.
We are so pleased that several schools have already adopted the curriculum. I’d like to share some feedback from a student at Clarington Central Secondary School.
“By making more people aware of what mental illness really is we could get rid of the stigma completely. Posters, pamphlets and presentations would be great to spread the word. Going into schools and informing the young is the best chance of getting rid of stigma. The more people know, the more people will know what to do when the occasion arises where someone they know becomes mentally ill.”
This powerful and thoughtful statement truly represents why we are all here, the important work we are doing together and the impact of that work.
For the past 3 days, secondary school teachers, other educators and allied support staff from have been participating in the education and will be getting ready to introduce mental health curriculum into more than 60 schools throughout their boards.
The short video you saw playing at the beginning of the event is part of the “You’re Not Alone” awareness campaign that accompanies the curriculum. It is designed to increase awareness of mental illness, promote early identification of symptoms, reduce stigma and serve as a booster to the education.
The campaign includes a print and digital component. Posters and printed materials are displayed in schools and local community areas. The short video is being played in schools as well as targeted Mac’s Milk convenience stores.
In addition, Ontario Shores has facilitated training to primary care and community mental health providers so they are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to respond to their patients in need of mental health care.
It is now my pleasure to introduce Dr. Stan Kutcher. He is an internationally-renowned psychiatrist and expert in adolescent mental health. Dr. Kutcher, the SunLife Financial Chair in Mental Health, along with other partners including the Canadian Mental Health Association, created a comprehensive mental health curriculum for schools. I would now like to call him to the podium to say a few words.
Stanley Kutcher, MD, FRPC
Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health
Thank-you very much.
I think that this is a very important day in a very important journey which is still in its very earliest phases.
There’s a Chinese prof. that says ‘a journey of a million miles begins with the first step.’ We are probably onto step number two. Which is good because that’s better than step one, and it’s better than not moving at all. In this journey, the purpose of the journey is to improve the lives of young people and their families. The purpose of this journey is to try to, whenever possible, promote good mental health, prevent mental disorders and absolutely necessary, identify and effectively treat them if and when they occur.
We are all committed to this journey and we can’t take this journey alone. I think what I really find tremendously positive about this is that we’re all in it together. Ontario Shores is playing a very important role in moving this forward. Canadian Mental Health Association is playing a very important role in moving this forward. The different school boards, I recognize some of the people here, who have become friends and colleges, when a year ago I didn’t even know who they were, are taking a tremendous and courageous step forward in moving this forward.
One of the things I just have to say, that it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be part of this. I want to give tremendous recognition, kudos to Cynthia Weaver and Jeff O’Conner because they have put countless hours and amazing energy into this process. Without them, this would not be happening and without everybody here this would not be happening. But, you know, as successful as we have been so far, this is really just the taste of where we need to go.
I had the privilege to be at an event with the Toronto District Catholic School Board last week and one of the speakers talked about imparting the thirst for knowledge. How important it is to make the people thirsty for more. In Cape Breton there is a completely meaning, but here, in Toronto, we’ll just keep it at thirsty for knowledge.
You know, the definition of someone who has problems with alcohol is that they drink more than their doctor. But we need to move ahead and creating this thirst for change is fundamental. So, I’m really looking forward to working with everybody here and also, all of us who are working with people that aren’t here. Because it’s the people that aren’t here, where we have to go next. So I’m looking forward to the next steps. I’m looking forward to the next steps with everybody here. And I’m looking forward to the next steps with all the people that aren’t here yet.
So, thank-you very much for your leadership and thank-you all very much for your participation. Thanks again.
Thank you Dr. Kutcher. We look forward to our continued partnership to enhance mental health literacy in Ontario.
In working on this initiative Ontario Shores wanted to create an adolescent documentary that would help bring awareness, reduce discrimination and booster the mental health curriculum in schools. We selected Affinity Productions to create the documentary which presents a personal mental health perspective from three young people on their journey to recovery. We are extremely excited about this project and will release the documentary later this year. I would now like to provide you with the first public viewing of the trailer for the film.
I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Shores’ Board of Directors in this initiative. We are pleased that several of our board members are with us today: Michael Nettleton, Mike Boyce, Barb Cooney, Abdul Mawji and Dr. Ian Dawe.
This program has required an extraordinary amount of time, talent and expertise. I would like to thank Sheila Neuburger, Susan Nakhle, Cynthia Weaver, Jeff O’Conner and Chris Bovie for their wonderful work and support.
On behalf of Ontario Shores, I would like to thank all of you for attending today’s event. We look forward to working with each and every one of you to bring mental health literacy into your setting and to strengthen the mental health care system for all of us.
For media we do have representatives from various school boards with us today. Please come to the front and our communications staff will be happy to help you.