It is hard work to raise a family. Bills, homework, and driving, driving, driving! What if you add to the usual demands, the extra requirements of supporting a child or youth with a mental health challenge? Doctor’s appointments, counseling, reminders to take medication, sleep disruptions, and the possible side effects of medication — it can be exhausting.
Children and youth with mental health challenges often face unique obstacles to healthy living due to the symptoms of their illness, the medication they are on or the stigma they may face. A lack of understanding and a fear of the unknown are often the sources of the misunderstanding and fear. This can sometimes lead to isolating individuals and families at the time when they most need support and encouragement.
Social connection and acceptance play a vital role in mental health and well-being. Recently BC Mental Health and Addictions Services and the FORCE (Families Organized for Recognition and Care Equality) Society for Kids’ Mental Health developed toolkits to help overcome the obstacles to healthy living. The tool kits, one for families and another for health professionals, provide information and resources to promote healthy living in children and youth with mental health challenges. The tool kits have tips to enhance family life through healthy sleep habits, stress management, and healthy eating.
Mental Illness Awareness Week was October 2-8 and October is Health Literacy Month. In 28 communities across the Interior region, community partners — led by the local literacy outreach co-ordinator — are working together to raise awareness through promotion and distribution of the tool kits to health professionals who can support children and youth with mental health challenges and their families. Three regional library systems have ordered tool kits to add to their floating collections to make sure this information is widely available to support families through their network of over 70 library branches across the Interior region.
Here in Creston, local literacy outreach co-ordinator Linda Steward is meeting with Creston and District Community Resource Centre staff and local advisory committees to come up with a distribution plan for the healthy living tool kits.
For further information about activity in your community or if you would like one of these kits for families or professionals, please contact Steward at 250-428-2664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on treatment and supports available for children and youth with mental health challenges, visit the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre at keltymentalhealth.ca.
— COLUMBIA BASIN ALLIANCE FOR LITERACY