As part of the Atlantic Summer Institute’s symposium on promoting child and youth mental health held this week in Charlottetown, delegates collaboratively worked on the call to action, which will be used to encourage government and community leaders to work together and work harder on evidence-based approaches to promoting child and youth mental health in Atlantic Canada.
Derrick Biso, who has been a youth participant in this symposium for the last three years, says he was excited to see discussions this year move from concept to action.
“Now it’s about creating a stronger plan moving forward so that we start seeing some real strides, not just steps by strides, forward,” Biso said.
“There’s a need for both evidence-based therapies that are shown to do good and that are flexible, but there’s also a need to just be flexible period with how the healing happens.”
Leena Augimeri, director of the child development institute in Ontario, presented one tool being rolled out across the country, thanks to a recent windfall of funding.
It’s called SNAP, which stands for “Stop now and plan.”
It is focused on helping children aged six to 11 who are showing the beginning signs of depression, anxiety or destructive behaviours.
Augimeri says she feels overall the symposium and the work done this year have been great steps forward in the work being done by advocates and stakeholders to improve services and outcomes for children and youth experiencing mental illness.
“I think they really got it right, with the focus this year on moving evidence to action,” Augimeri said.
“We have to think about how to build mental health services and how to do it differently.”
She stressed her belief that community organizations and even corporate and strategic donors should be working together with government to ensure the right kinds of mental health services are available to those who need it.
Biso says there is also a need to focus on promotion of mental wellness, rather than looking solely at trying to treat mental illness.
“Everybody has mental health and, regardless of whether you have mental illness or not, you can have good or bad mental health, and so there’s a need for more promotion of good mental health, preventing poor mental health and creating a culture of mental well-being.”
The final version of the call to action will be shared with key stakeholders and government leaders across the Atlantic region. To view and contribute to the document, visit www.asi-iea.ca/en/call-to-action.