We refer to the article in the Penticton Western News, Anxiety and addiction new reality for many youth, on Feb. 17 and agree there is a great need to provide support and education to our youth who suffer from mental illnesses.
The Mental Wellness Centre (South Okanagan Similkameen Mental Wellness Society — formerly B.C. Schizophrenia Society Penticton Branch) has been offering a youth (16 to 30) mental health support program called Martin House since 2012.
The Martin House program provides peer support, one-on-one counselling to address individual challenges or goals and activities to encourage socialization. The ultimate goal is to co-locate this program with the proposed Youth Engagement Strategy youth centre when it is completed.
Our biggest challenge has been securing funding to continue the Martin House program at an effective level and perform the outreach activities needed to reach our youth. The youth centre will help with the outreach portion and we look forward to it becoming a reality. We have done what we can with the money granted to us by the City of Penticton, Telus, the Knights of Columbus and other supportive businesses and individuals.
It takes a village if we want to reduce the incidence of youth suicide and other negative outcomes that often result, for the community and the individual, from youth mental illness. The health care system is focused on treatment and does not provide all the support the individual and their family will need to cope with the mental illness. The best way the village can help address youth mental health is to donate to programs like the YES youth centre and our Martin House program. These programs cannot survive without the financial support of the community.
We, as a community, need to send a message to our youth that their lives matter and no matter what horrible things they may be experiencing there is hope if they are given the means to cope.
South Okanagan Similkameen Mental Wellness Society