The Canada Post Foundation made an amazing gift of $10,000 to improve youth mental health services in our community.

The Canada Post Foundation supports organizations working to improve youth mental health throughout the country. In the past five years, the Foundation has provided more than $6 million to build libraries, create sports and breakfast programs, and ensure access to crisis lines, anti-bullying and mental health initiatives, special needs clinics and life-skills training. Locally, this recent grant will be used to expand the CMHA Super Saturday program for youth who have a parent with a mental illness.

One Saturday a month children aged 7-12 enjoy a fun filled day of activities they might not otherwise get the chance to experience, all the while building a peer support network with other youth facing similar circumstances. CMHA Vernon developed the Super Saturday program two years ago to provide youth with a safe space to share feelings and connect socially, while dealing with the stigma that families often face when impacted by mental illness (or addiction issues). Super Saturday also provides an opportunity for the parents (90% of whom are a single parent household) to focus on their own self-care while their children are participating.

“What I really like about Super Saturday is you get to go to different places every month. It is really fun and exciting and you get to meet new friends. Since joining Super Saturday I have noticed that I am a bit less shy and I have gained confidence. My favorite part of Super Saturday is seeing my friends and doing fun things with them each month,” said a Super Saturday participant.

Research into the lives of children and youth who have a parent with a mental illness indicates a correlation between parental illness and the risk of their children experiencing mental health issues of their own. Positive peer support programs that address issues around parental mental health, respite care, and time to just “be kids” reduces the likelihood that children will face their own mental health challenges. About one in seven young people in BC—or 14%—will experience a mental illness at some point. Many mental illnesses—between 50% and about 70%—show up before the age of 18, having  huge impact on a child’s development. Mental illnesses can affect how well kids do in school and how they form relationships with other kids and adults. Mental illnesses, if not treated early, can be disruptive enough to a kid’s normal development that it can affect them for the rest of their lives.

The support from the Canada Post Foundation has meant that CMHA can now expand this program for youth aged 13-17.

“The funds from the Canada Post Foundation mean we can build in the success of Super Saturday to offer a program for older youth. This has meant the world to those aging out of Super Saturday. The new Friday Night Live program provides life skills, education and recreation in order to provide a stable support network to manage their mental wellness through their teen years,’ said Julia Payson, CMHA Vernon Executive Director.

“We are so happy to see our community benefit from the funds raised by the Canada Post Foundation. There is such a strong need for more youth mental health services in our community. It is wonderful to be able to help those families in need in our community,” said Donna Henri Canada Post Acting Superintendent.

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