Grassroots Organization Taking Aim at Rising Canadian Youth Suicide Rates

News Release

For Immediate Release

Feb. 11, 2020

 

HAMILTON, Ont. — Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC) is taking action to combat the rising number of youth suicides and youth mental health crisis with a series of interactive mental wellness workbooks.

 

The organization has been motivated by the fact that nearly 450 youth aged 10 to 24 – more than one a day – die by suicide every year in Canada, the third highest youth suicide rate in the industrialized world.

 

Four workbooks, appropriate for all ages and backgrounds, have been launched by the organization to provide youth with the mental wellness tools they need to identify school and community supports and gain skills, strategies and information to support themselves or others who might struggle with their mental health. The books have exercises around goal-setting, problem-solving and self-awareness.

“These books are putting the tools for mental wellness into the hands of the people who need them,” says YMHC Canada executive director Sheryl Boswell, an educator who authored the series. “We are not waiting for mental health challenges or suicide crises, or societal systems to decide what supports or services are available. Rather, we are using a very proactive approach that puts youth, families and educators in the driving seat for youth mental health change.”

 

The books were showcased at the International Association for Youth Mental Health conference in Australia in October 2019 and have received rave reviews from a number of mental health professionals. The conference connected young people, practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and educators who are passionate about driving a unified effort to create co-ordinated and comprehensive youth mental health and wellness change.

 

Dr. Sally Spencer Thomas, president of United Suicide Survivors International and board member of the American Association of Suicidology, writes in the books: “The mental wellness series from Youth Mental Health Canada is something every young person should have. Like a daily fitness routine, the workbooks provide practices and action steps that can help build the mental muscle of resilience for when hard times hit. They also help youth focus on building a life worth living while also putting a personal safety plan in place for when they are challenged by what life throws their way. The tools and resources embodied in these workbooks are best practices in helping youth build the emotional intelligence they will need to survive and thrive now and in the years ahead.”

 

Dr. John Ackerman, suicide prevention co-ordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, writes in the books: “As rates of anxiety, depression and suicide among our youth increase, we need creative and approachable solutions. The resources developed by YMHC will allow countless young people and their families to learn strategies that enhance overall wellness and make it easier for educators to tackle tough but increasingly essential topics.”

 

Keewaytinook Internet High School, which is based in Thunder Bay, Ont., and serves 13 First Nations northern communities where there have been a number of suicides, has already confirmed it will be purchasing more than 500 books, and Inner City High School in Edmonton, Alta., wants to use the books as a resource for students, teachers and staff.

 

Boswell says the books are evidence, strength and hope-based and incorporate international best practices in mental health to help youth put a personal wellness safety plan in place for when they are struggling with their mental health.

 

“The resources provide strategies for responding to mental health challenges with awareness, understanding, caring and compassion. Once youth have access to information and resources on mental health and wellness and develop strategies and skills for wellness, hope becomes real.”

 

National figures and an online survey conducted by YMHC show that youth in Canada need these resources, as 32 per cent of young people who responded to the YMHC survey indicated they had considered attempting suicide. More alarmingly, three per cent had made an attempt. Meanwhile, 59 per cent of respondents did not know where to go for help.

 

In addition to the books,  YMHC has produced an educational youth mental health video series and runs a compassionate card service, whereby messages of support are sent to people who are struggling with mental health issues from peer support volunteers across Canada. For more information on the YMHC, go to www.ymhc.ngo.

 

Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC)/YMHC Charitable Foundation is a grassroots, community-based, non-profit organization focused on youth, family and educator engagement to provide culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, needs-based tools and resources for mental health and wellness promotion, education and support. YMHC has one of the largest and most engaged mental health platforms in Canada with a reach of millions around the world and an Indigenous inclusion rate of 20 per cent.

 

More Information

Sheryl Boswell

Executive Director, YMHC

(647) 952-9642

www.ymhc.ngo

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