Mental health forum promotes collaborative efforts to fix youth mental health crisis

GUELPH — The Grove Wellington Guelph, the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHAWW) and The Children’s Foundation of Guelph Wellington hosted a youth mental health forum on Sept. 16 that 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. 

Approximately one in six youth or 140,300, contemplate suicide yearly, a number that 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.

Critical discussions took place on how the community can make changes and included 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,” Tibollo said. “Community is where the work should be done, not in the hospitals.”

Dr. Joanna Henderson, executive director of Youth Wellness Hubs Ontario (YWHO), gave staggering statistics on how local youth have been struggling. 

Indicating only 25 to 30% 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, Henderson explained that 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,” Henderson said. “Youth cannot wait.” 

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.