June 12th, 2021

Children’s Mental Health Day shines light on issues facing youth

By Al Beeber on May 6, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Wood’s Homes and the City are teaming up to turn Lethbridge green on Friday – well City Hall, that is.
Friday is Children’s Mental Health Day, part of Mental Health Week which started Monday and runs through Sunday.
On Friday, City Hall will be awash in green light to raise awareness of mental health issues in youth.
Wood’s Homes, based in Calgary, is a children’s mental health centre that offers treatment and support to 20,000, children youth and families in Alberta every year.
The organization operates in Lethbridge, Calgary, Strathmore and Fort MacMurray.
While the City of Calgary has lit up its iconic tower in recognition of the day, this year will be the first Wood”s Homes has worked with the City of Lethbridge.
The relationship was initiated by Coleen Campbell, fund development co-ordinator for Wood’s Homes Lethbridge, said program manager Shauna Cohen on Wednesday.
“This is exciting for us,” said Cohen, who has been with the organization for 17 years. Wood’s Homes has operated in Lethbridge since 1990.
Mental health issues in children are easily overlooked, said Cohen.
“Kids fall through the cracks,” she said. Potential reasons for mental issues are abundant and Wood’s Homes work with youth and their families to get to the root of the problem.
And not all mental health issues are genetic with many being situational problems, she said.
If those problems can be addressed early in life then children can avoid falling into lives of addiction or homelessness, she said.
The Wood’s Homes shelter in Lethbridge, which opened in 2003, has eight beds but due to COVID restrictions, only four can be occupied at any one time during the pandemic.
Along with abuse and addictions, mental health can be a contributing factor in youth homelessness, Cohen said.
“There are so many contributing factors.”
During the pandemic, Wood’s Homes has seen a big increase in the the demand for its services including crisis counselling and has adapted quickly to the changes COVID has forced upon the world.
While walk-in services have been limited, the organization has continued to offer services such as video conferencing and contact by text and telephone.
Mental health problems, said Cohen, don’t discriminate. Regardless of socio-economic situation or any other factor, it affects people.
“We’re trying to promote this; we’re trying to reduce the stigma. It’s so prevalent and it’s OK to talk about it and reach out,” she said.
“It’s hard for a lot of people to talk about and younger ones may not know what’s going on with them,” said Cohen,” stressing the importance of early intervention to prevent young lives from derailing.
Connecting with a therapist at Wood’s Homes is as simple as calling 1-800-563-1608 or texting 587-315-5000. The organization can also be reached online at http://www.woodshomes.ca
Wood’s Homes, said Cohen, is “an eclectic organization” that offers 42 different programs in the agency with 500 staff.
And those staff “have gone above and beyond the call of duty” to provide services youth and their families need, she said.
“I’m very proud of our staff here. We have 28 and they’ve all come up to the plate.”
Some clients live at home or in foster are while others have their own places or are temporarily out of their homes, said Cohen, adding that for Wood’s Homes “family first is our No. 1 goal.”
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Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter

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