“Mental Health Matters” is the slogan and theme for this year’s International Youth Day, an annual awareness day held by the United Nations to draw attention to social issues related to youth. This year’s theme is meant to raise awareness about youth with mental health issues and help reduce stigma. The United Nations estimates that one in five young people around the world experience a mental health condition. Youth with mental health conditions often experience stigma and discrimination, which in turn can lead to exclusion and/or discourage people from seeking help for fear of being negatively ‘labelled’. To help combat this stigma, The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs brought together youth, experts, members of Member States and United Nations entities at the UN headquarters on August 12, 2014 to discuss and raise awareness about youth and mental illness. There was also a panel discussion at the event featuring individuals who spoke out about their experience with mental health issues.
In Canada, CMHA works to ensure youth have access to mental health services through a variety of partnership projects and resources. CMHA Ontario developed a mental health literacy training module on behalf of the Ontario After School Collaborative to reach after-school supervisors in the province. “Strengthening Children’s Mental Health through After School Programs” enables supervisors to support staff in promoting positive mental health amongst children. In 2012, more than 40 leaders received the training and more than 70 after-school supervisors participated in the workshop.
More recently, CMHA Ontario provides support to the Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health to help enhance campus service providers’ capacity to meet the needs of students with complex mental health concerns. Many CMHA local branches have affiliations with post-secondary institutions in their areas to enhance programs, supports and services for students on campus and link students with helpful resources and services off campus.
For more information on International Youth Day, visit the United Nations website.