MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard Spoke about Mental Health Week in the Legislature

Today, MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard spoke about Mental Health Week in the Legislature. You can watch the video here, or read the transcript below.

This week is Mental Health Week, and starting the week today is National Child and Youth Mental Health Day. I’d like to acknowledge the Canadian Mental Health Association, which serves over 100,000 people in B.C. each year.

Sadly, only a third of B.C.’s 84,000 children and youth experiencing mental health problems are connected to the help they need. One in five adults in B.C. experiences mental health and/or substance use problems, and we are certainly all aware of the devastating opioid crisis.

The Hedican family from my community, after losing their son to an overdose, is speaking out with passion and conviction about the need to overcome stigma. How do we seek help if we are marked by shame and disapproval? A number of years ago there was a rash of five teen suicides in Courtenay-Comox. It was devastating to the families and frightening for all of us. It was a very painful lesson about the effects of stigma and the need for supports and services when and where they are needed.

We now have the first Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions in Canada. The focus: ask for help once, and get help fast. Every door is the right door. The Ministry of Education is providing more supports in schools for early intervention and prevention so that our kids can have the best start possible. There’s an expanding network of Foundry centres, one-stop shops for youth services, in many communities.

It’s not just about government services. We can and must all play a part in eliminating stigma. Everyone, let’s join the conversation with #GetLoud on social media. Check out #FamilySmart, and let’s have those personal, caring conversations in support of mental wellness. Be kind; be open. You might just change someone’s life, maybe even your own.