A reference guide for families seeking help in addressing youth mental health issues in the Comox Valley and Campbell River areas has been updated and is now available.
The second edition of Orientation to Child, Youth & Family Mental Health And Substance Use Services is being distributed to doctors, schools and youth service providers throughout the respective communities. (The first edition of the guide was published in 2014.)
Colleen Clark, parent-in-residence for the Comox Valley & Campbell River chapter of Families Organized for Recognition and Care Equality (FORCE), said the guide plays an important role in assisting families who are dealing with mental health issues within their homes.
The guide is a result of an inquest following the death of Hayden Kozeletski, a Campbell River teen who took her own life in December of 2010.
“One of the recommendations from the jury was that an orientation guide similar to the one that existed in Victoria be created for the Comox Valley and Campbell River,” said Clark. “The guide is written in layman’s terms, so the families can understand the terminology… written by families, for families, to help them navigate the mental health system. It’s also there to help them understand what mental health is, and what different types of mental health challenges exist for their kids.”
The guide has listings to various crisis lines, including the Native Youth Crisis Hotline, and the Kids Help Phone. It also provides families with overviews of a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, self harm, eating disorders and personality disorders.
“A lot of what we are trying to do here is reach the parents of the younger kids, so they can educate themselves as to what to look out for, whether it be kids of pre-school or toddler age, or when they make their way into teenage years,” said Clark.
In addition to tips on what to watch for in your child’s behaviour, the guide also offers steps to take to address the situations.
“It helps parents navigate services through the Ministry of Children and Family Development, as well as Island Health, and the provincial services that exist, and all the smaller service providers that are in our community are also listed,” said Clark. “The child mental health system is made up of so many different systems – even the education system – because there are so many education options now for our kids.
“We will be doing a launch into the community starting (this) week, so they can ask their GP about it, or any service providers they are linked up to; they can ask the ministry; if they are in School District 71 they can talk to their school counsellor about getting a copy, or they can contact me.”
Clark’s phone number is 1-855-887-8004.
The guide is also available online, in pdf form, at http://bit.ly/2h3MZ9t
The guide was funded by Island Health.
The Comox Valley local action team, made up of doctors, service providers, parents and youth, also contributed a significant amount of money to fund more copies of the guide.
“Because of that, we are able to get hundreds of more copies into the community,” said Clark.
She noted efforts to erase the stigma surrounding mental health are ongoing.
“We do have a long ways to go in erasing the stigma, but I have been involved for the last four years and I have seen a bit of a change, so there’s a lot of hope,” she said. “A lot of families won’t reach out, because of the stigma, and the shame that they feel goes with that; the blaming that parents sometimes receive. So a lot of education has to happen, just with the public in general.”