Local access to youth mental health services is critical

Not too long ago, the idea of a child expressing feelings of stress or anxiety would have been quickly dismissed.

After all they don’t have to worry about rent, work or finances so what could they possibly know about real stress?

Fortunately, attitudes have since changed and society has begun to acknowledge that mental health concerns for kids, teens and young adults are just as valid as those of full grown adults. Much like adults, those feelings can be harmful if ignored. Among the organizations leading the charge is the Maltby Centre, which has an office in Napanee at 99 Advance Ave. Their recent return to offering a youth mental health drop-in clinic is a very welcome one for the community. The notion that youth have somewhere to go if they need to talk about their mental health concerns can be a major turning point. For a generation that is more connected to the world news than ever-and with news only seeming to get more bleak than ever-it’s very reasonable to except those aged 24 and under could have some heavy thoughts weighing on their minds. Social media can be both a wonderful tool or a powerful weapon and for better or worse the younger generation is experiencing all sides of it.

Sometimes just knowing someone’s out there and willing to listen can make all the difference. For parents and guardians it’s nice to know this resource is available as well if they are having trouble understanding why their child may be exhibiting abnormal behaviour. The fact the service is offered at Maltby’s Napanee location is huge. Access to specialized health care will forever be an obstacle in rural communities, there’s no two ways about it. In this instance however, having trained staff on site that live and work within the community is fantastic. Getting to an urban centre such as Kingston or Belleville isn’t always an option and in some cases could mean the difference between addressing a problem or ignoring it and hoping for the best. Offering the service locally is one less road block for someone considering seeking help.

Last Wednesday was Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day created to raise awareness of the importance of talking about mental health. Anecdotally, it felt like this year’s event went by with much less fanfare than in previous years, perhaps a sign the campaign has maybe gone a bit stale. While the concept of the day is still important-perhaps now more so than ever-Canadians may have begun to drown it out due to overuse. Whatever the case, there’s no denying the campaign has done lots of good, both in terms of dollars raised and awareness generated. Eradicating the stigma around mental health has come a long way even within the last decade. There’s always going to be work to do but creating an environment where those who need help can feel comfortable to do so is a great start. Having those services available when they need them-at any age-is yet another key piece to the puzzle.

-Adam Prudhomme

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