Sioux Lookout joins nationwide efforts, takes part in Annual Mental Health Week
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout joined nationwide recognition and participation in the Annual Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mental Health Week last week from May 6 to 12.
This is the 68th year of the CMHA Mental Health Week, which always takes place on the first full week in May every year. This year’s campaign core message was, “Get loud about what mental health really is.”
Sioux Lookout participated in different activities throughout the community to rally around CMHA Mental Health Week.
Sioux North High School (SNHS) had the entire week packed with a variety of activities including poster displays, candy grams, manicures, anti-stress kit giveaways, yoga, dancing, making stress relieving play dough, and creating an art mural.
The school’s Jack Chapter partnered with fellow staff, students, and community partners to help organize the wide variety of events for students.
“We all decided to work together so that we could host more events. A few classes took on a few events, which was really nice because that way it wasn’t just one group doing the whole week. We also have our community partners supporting us, which is great,” shared SNHS guidance counsellor Brittany Nielsen.
“We hope that this will let students maybe let go of their stress for a little bit,” shared Rhyonna Delpesche, grade 11 student at Sioux North High School.
“It makes me feel nice being able to participate in making other people hopefully feel better, and I think that’s how the rest of the people involved feel too. It’s a good feeling inside,” she added.
The students also received recognition from Firefly through a post on their Facebook page, which reads, “… Shout out to these youth mental health ambassadors in our community who are working hard to promote awareness regarding mental health.”
The CMHA Fort Frances Branch, Sioux Lookout office, also spread mental health awareness throughout town while also promoting healthy foods.
“It’s spring and lots of people are thinking about what they’re going to grow in their gardens, so we got some seed packets with different assorted vegetables like carrots, beans, and herbs and each of the seniors centres would’ve had a delivery of our program information, the poster, and a seed packet attached. It was the idea of planting seeds together and maintaining supports for individuals in our community in our efforts to realize our vision, which is our organizational vision of mental health and wellness in all communities,” shared Alyson Martin, Psychogeriatric Resource Consultant Lead at the CMHA Sioux Lookout office.
“We also made sure we took some information to different schools in the community where we recognized that teachers are often the ones who are supposed to be providing support and advocacy for so many people and yet it’s really important that they also make sure they care for themselves as well,” she added.
When asked about students taking the lead in mental health initiatives in Sioux Lookout, Martin shared that it’s something everyone can benefit from.
“I think the fact that there are young people who are taking that initiative and saying, ‘Yeah we’re going to own this.’ Not only is that something that they can benefit from but it’s something that we all benefit from as well as adults and as people who can learn from young people at every step of the way… I’m very excited that the students are taking the bull by the horns,” she said.
During one of the students’ lunches, booths were set up from different community partners advertising the different programs available locally. The different partners were the Northwestern Health Unit, the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, and Firefly.
The Northwestern Health Unit provides mental health and healthy living services, and they are available at (807) 737-2292. The Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre offers addictions, healthy living, and healing programs, and they are available at (807)-737-1903. The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority offers Nodin Child and Family Intervention Services, and they are available at (807) 737-1802. The Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre offers their Mental Health and Addictions Program, and they’re available at (807) 737-1275. Firefly offers Child & Youth Mental Health services, and they’re available at 1-833-696-5437.
A press release from the Government of Ontario detailed investments as part of its $174 million in funding for mental health and addictions supports.
Those investments include:
Nearly $30 million for child and youth community mental health services and programs across Ontario to ensure earlier and faster mental health and addictions support in communities.
More than $33 million for consumption treatment services sites in communities across the province. For those who are struggling with opioid and other drug addictions, these sites are an important first step towards treatment through new wraparound health and social services. This funding will also support addictions programs at the local level across Ontario.
More than $15 million for more housing supports for people who are homeless and face mental health and addictions issues.
More than $25 million to reduce wait times for community mental health programs, and services for priority populations, including Francophones.
More than $27 million to fund mental health supports in Ontario's education system, which will directly benefit schools, teachers and, most importantly, students and their parents.
More than $18 million to support mental health and addictions supports in the justice sector, including direct support for corrections staff to address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health challenges. Additionally, our government is investing in mobile crisis intervention teams to help police officers and other first responders better assist people experiencing mental health crises.
$1 million to support postsecondary institutions in partnering with community-based mental health and addictions services.
More than $5 million for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services to provide culturally-appropriate mental health services and supports to Indigenous communities, including adults, families, children and youth. The government will invest another $7 million through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to fund treatment centres and mental wellness programs, as well as mental health and addiction workers and coordinators for Ontario's Indigenous communities.
$12 million to help build additional hospital capacity with new inpatient mental health beds. These investments will directly help end hallway health care and ensure all Ontarians, including those struggling with mental health and addictions challenges, have faster access to the care they need in our province's hospitals.
$250,000 for the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility to develop and deliver a seniors' mental health educational initiative.
“Our government is taking a multi-ministerial approach that brings together Ontario's health, education, housing, justice and social services sector, among others, to work alongside one another to help bring much-needed supports to communities across Ontario,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in the press release.
“Our government is investing in solutions today that will help reduce wait times, enhance opioids and addictions services, create additional supportive housing, build capacity in child and youth mental health, support our men and women in uniform and add services for seniors, Francophones and Ontario's Indigenous people.”