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New partnership to support early interventions in youth mental health

Twenty per cent of Canadian youth are affected by mental illness, but only one in five receive the services they need. 

Now 13 Canadian children’s hospital foundations, together with the Sobey Foundation and 127,000 Sobeys Inc. teammates, have created A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative – a ground-breaking investment that will help kids while they’re still kids, giving them the best possible chance to thrive.

Canadians will have the opportunity to donate to the “A Family of Support” initiative through an in-store fundraising campaign running from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 at all Sobeys Inc. banner stores in Saskatchewan, including: Sobeys, Safeway, IGA and FreshCo. One hundred per cent of the funds raised will support local children’s hospitals and their “A Family of Support” program.

The new Children’s Emergency Department at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital (JPCH) provides short-stay crisis care for Saskatchewan children and youth experiencing acute mental health challenges. The funding will go to support a Mental Health Intensive Care Room in the Emergency Department to provide a safe, calming environment for children and youth in crisis.

Meet Madeline

Madeline is 14 years old. She loves hanging out with friends and listening to music, especially the band, Wallows.

This fall she started grade 10, but her first year of high school was rocky. The pressures of social life and the stress of falling behind in school were mounting. She tried to hide it, but it all became too much for her to handle. That’s when she felt she reached her breaking point.

“It felt like the glass underneath me shattering,” Madeline explained.

In January 2020, it led her to the point of attempting suicide. Her mom, Samantha, rushed her to the emergency in the early hours of the morning, but the resources were not in place to provide her with the treatment she needed.

“When we went to the hospital, I just remember I couldn’t focus on anything. My mind was feeling numb. It was really overwhelming,” explained Madeline. “I don’t want anyone to feel the type of pain I felt that night. It felt so draining. I felt so much pain all over my body and into my chest.”

The next day, Madeline saw a mental health intake professional to make an at-home plan, but she said didn’t find much comfort in the experience. Madeline has since found a great source of support from a counsellor who works in suicide bereavement, while she waits to see a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Madeline also found support in close friends, family, and different types of coping skills.

“After my experience, it was eye-opening and I started to understand my mental health more. Now I know more about how things affect me, what I was going through at that time, and overall I’m feeling a lot better now,” Madeline said.

Mental health challenges are not something new for Madeline’s family. Her maternal grandmother struggled with bipolar and drug addiction for years, before taking her own life in 2014. The Saskatoon family hopes that by sharing their story it will continue the conversation around mental health and help to end the stigma.

“Because of the stigma, my mom would never say that she had a problem, but having the ability to talk about it is so important. Maybe if my mom would have talked about it she would still be here today,” said Samantha. “Madeline was only seven when my mom died, and that loss is permanent. It’s so important to talk about it because that pattern needs to stop.”

If you or someone you know is going through a crisis or thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1.833.456.4566 or Kids Help Phone at 1.800.668.6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.  If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. 

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