2016—2017 · V. 44 No. 1



Mental health matters…More than ever!

Conversations about mental health are happening every day. There is growing awareness about depression and anxiety because of campaigns like Bell—Let’s Talk. Important events such as World Suicide Prevention Day provide information about a subject that still causes discomfort for many. Startling statistics challenge us—forcing us to be mindful of the importance of addressing mental health concerns.

Reputable groups such as the World Health Organization try to help us comprehend the reality of suicide, with estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year. That’s one person every 40 seconds. And up to 25 times as many people make a suicide attempt. The numbers are alarming. In Ontario, CAMH reported that “more than 230,000 Ontario adults contemplated suicide in 2013.” In June 2016, Woodstock became another community rocked by the impact of youth suicide.

Kids Help PhoneKids Help Phone just released the findings of their report on the well-being of teens in Canada. We learned the harsh reality that “approximately one-in-five teens (22 per cent) report that they seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months.” Almost half of these teens also reported they had a plan—meaning they had given consideration to how, when and where they would attempt suicide. The research also found that girls are twice as likely as boys to have seriously considered suicide.

With over a quarter of those young people reporting they experienced violence either at home or at school, it is clear that there is much work still to be done. So what can be done?

OSSTF/FEESO offers a number of PD workshops that are designed to enhance the understanding of critical issues such as bullying, harassment and mental health. Resources offered by the Canadian Mental Health Association can be accessed in many communities. Suicide prevention training is being offered more widely.

Together we must continue to connect and communicate about these important issues. Most importantly, we must act.

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