Etobicoke, ON – September can often be a stressful time for children and teens – returning to school or attending a new school, making new friends and keeping focused on school work. These challenges are amplified when a child or youth is dealing with mental health and addiction issues. Launched earlier this year, the Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre's (CCAC) new Mental Health and Addiction Nurses (MHAN) initiative helps those students survive, thrive, stay in school and manage their future.
"Our Mental Health and Addiction Nurses support students suffering from depression and anxiety which is one of the most common challenges for youth, as well as a number of other mental health and addiction issues. We help close the gap between health care and school by supporting students in the school. The program helps prevent hospital admissions and also helps students return to school successfully after they have been discharged from hospital," says Caroline Brereton, CEO Mississauga Halton CCAC.
"Early intervention, assessment and access to treatment are crucial for crisis prevention, recovery and student achievement," says Shauna Johnston, Mental Health and Addictions Nurse, Mississauga Halton CCAC.
"This initiative increases our ability to provide comprehensive care to students in the region. I have been inspired by one of the students that I worked with who lived with Borderline Personality Disorder; she dedicated a large portion of her time to fighting the stigma that exists for people living with mental illness. She has inspired me to examine my own beliefs and stand up against the stigma that exists in our communities," Shauna Johnston explains.
"While the road to recovery can be long and difficult, mental well-being is worth fighting for. I work hard to impart the importance of support for all involved, the student, the family and the circle of friends involved. We are here to support all those involved. Support and services exist and we help families find the help they need," says Shauna Johnston.
The initiative is part of the province's larger mental health and addictions strategy, Open Minds, Healthy Minds, which launched in 2011 with the promise to focus on children and youth for its first three years. Mental Health and Addiction Nurses are located in all Halton region high schools across Oakville, Milton, Georgetown, Burlington and Acton, providing support for students after hospitalization, educating teachers and guidance counsellors on expected behaviours and bringing expertise when dealing with a crossover of mental health and addiction issues. In addition to the region we support, all CCACs are collaborating with district school boards across the province to meet the needs of students.
The Mississauga Halton CCAC coordinates in-home and community support services, information and referral and long-term care placement. It is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and serves a population of more than one-million residents in the communities of South Etobicoke, Mississauga, Oakville, Halton Hills and Milton.
Manager, Media and Public Relations
Mississauga Halton CCAC
1-877-336-9090 x 7909
Mental Health and Addictions Statistics
Mental health and addiction issues in children and youth are a growing concern for Canadians. Initiatives such as Mississauga Halton CCAC's Mental Health and Addictions Nursing are vital to combatting rising mental health statistics in the country.
- One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. The remaining four will have a friend, family member or colleague who will.[i]
- Seventy per cent of mental health problems and illnesses have their onset during childhood or adolescence.[ii]
- Young people ages 15 to 24 are more likely to report mental illness and/or substance use disorders than other age groups.[iii]
- Of the 6.7 million people who have a mental health problem, about one million are children and teenagers between nine and 19 years old.[iv]
- In 2011, approximately $42.3 billion was spent in Canada on treatment, care and support for people with mental health problems. If a small percentage of mental health problems in children could be prevented, the savings would be in the billions.[v]
iCanadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
iiCanadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH)
iiiCanadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH)
ivMental Health Commission of Canada
vMental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Tips for Children and Teens
The Mississauga Halton CCAC Mental Health and Addiction Nurses have compiled a list of tips for parents to help their children start the school year off with a good start:
- Remember: mental health is just as important as physical health
- Sleep well and eat well-balanced meals and get physical exercise! These are essential to mental health
- Write down some goals for the future that can help you stay focused when times get tough
- Have a positive group of friends who are supportive and accepting
- Think of positive and healthy ways to deal with stressful situations other than alcohol and drugs
- Get involved in school activities! Join the band, drama club, yearbook committee—something you enjoy and where you can meet people and feel a sense of belonging
- If school activities don't tickle your fancy find healthy and fun things to do outside of school and home! Volunteer and give back to the community - you can make a huge difference
- Parents: Communication is key! Ask your teen about fears and concerns they have about the new school year. Listen. Check in often and show support. Respect your teen's opinion
- Everyone experiences anger and stress. Help your teen explore solutions and find acceptable ways of working through these feelings
- Parents: Become familiar with the services available at your child's school and let your teen know it is okay to seek help from a counsellor, health care professional or a trusted adult if they need it
- Parents: Praise and celebrate your teen and all their accomplishments. Promote healthy body image and lifestyle
[i] Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
[ii] Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH)
[iii] Canadian Association of Mental Health (CAMH)
[iv] Mental Health Commission of Canada
[v] Mental Health Commission of Canada