Ontario Shores Unveils Mental Health Education and Awareness Program

October 18, 2011
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) today unveiled a campaign to introduce mental health curriculum into high schools and increase awareness of adolescent mental illness to the communities it serves.

In partnership with school boards and Dr. Stanley Kutcher, Ontario Shores organized training for educators, teachers, and support staff to help deliver adolescent mental health literacy to four school boards this semester including, Durham District School Board, Durham Catholic District School Board, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board. Seventeen schools from those boards will pilot this program this year. Ontario Shores will be looking to expand this curriculum across the province.

“We were extremely pleased to see the overwhelming support and eagerness from school boards to make this happen,” said Ontario Shores Board Chair Michael Nettleton. “Our board believes very strongly in the need for education that will support early diagnosis and support for young people dealing with any form of mental illness.”

The comprehensive curriculum was previously developed by leading adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Stanley Kutcher and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Ontario Shores, in arranging the largest roll out of this curriculum, funded the training and materials to the school boards. While in Whitby, Dr Kutcher is providing training to both educators and primary health care physicians and workers.

“Proactively addressing youth mental health and early effective intervention for youth mental disorders is a responsibility that young people, parents and all those who work with youth collectively share,” says Dr. Kutcher. “This partnership between Ontario Shores and the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health is designed to help young people, parents, educators and primary care health providers enhance their abilities to work together to improve mental health and more effectively treat mental disorders so that young people can have better opportunities to be as successful as they can be.”

More than 150 educators and healthcare professionals are attending training sessions to support the launch of this program.

As well, Ontario Shores unveiled an adolescent mental health awareness campaign to support the education. The “You’re Not Alone” campaign will feature posters and print materials as well as video – which will be played in schools as well as targeted Mac’s Milk convenience stores. Ontario Shores is also working on an adolescent mental health documentary scheduled to be completed in spring/summer 2012.

“We want mental health to be thought of in the same way as physical health. If you are hurting you reach out for help without fear of being judged,” says Sheila Neuburger, Vice President of Clinical Services at Ontario Shores. “Education and awareness are the first steps in changing the culture of mental illness.”

The number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk of developing depression is more than three million and next to auto accidents, suicide is the leading cause of death in adolescents. More than 91 per cent of those who took their life were deemed to have a mental illness at the time of their death.

For more information on the You’re Not Alone campaign or to see how your school can get involved visit www.ontarioshores.ca

View the 30 second digital segment here.

About Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences:
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) is a leader in mental health care, providing a spectrum of specialized assessment and treatment services for people living with complex mental illness. Patients benefit from a recovery-oriented environment of care, built on compassion, inspiration and hope. Ontario Shores engages in research, education and advocacy initiatives to advance the mental health care system.

About Teen Mental Health:
Teenmentalhealth.org is a project of the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health, a partnership between Sun Life Financial, Dalhousie University and IWK Health Centre.

The Chair functions in a knowledge enhancing capacity by systematically collecting, evaluating, interpreting, translating and disseminating scientifically-validated information about adolescent mental health to advance the understanding of mental illness and to improve the lives of young people with mental disorders.

For more information, or to set up an interview, please contact:
Communications and Public Affairs
Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences
905-430-4055 ext. 4001