North Okanagan communities are facing an urgent challenge surrounding youth mental health, suicide and substance use, with suicide the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds in BC after motor vehicle accidents.

Community Foundation of the North Okanagan is supporting CMHA Vernon’s early prevention and intervention efforts with a generous donation of $10,000.

“We know that education is an important factor in early intervention and prevention. With support from CFNO and other contributors, CMHA has hired a full-time Community Educator that will double our current community education services and suicide prevention course offerings that CMHA provides, said CMHA Vernon Executive Director Julia Payson.

With the generous support from CFNO, one of the initiatives CMHA is planning is four Community Forums featuring resource fairs in Armstrong, Lumby and Vernon.

Rural youth face additional challenges such as higher incidences of at-risk behavior and lack of access to resources.  The forums are a community-led relationship-and resource-building project that include youth leadership recruitment and training, Indigenous leadership and training, and the development and provision of much-needed resources for parents and caregivers.

CMHA is also increasing its workplace mental health education opportunities to include custom workplace workshops, lunch and learns, suicide prevention, and more Mental Health First Aid workshops to assist employers and staff members with strategies for dealing with employee mental health.

The expansion of mental health community education including early intervention and prevention programs helps change the lives of individuals by offering greater access to proven successful evidence-based courses that build individuals’ capacity to manage their mental wellness.  Many thanks to the Community Foundation of North Okanagan for supporting mental health in our community.

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