Marketing BC Interior manager Brangwen Mooney, left, Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board director Josh Dueck, right, present CMHA Vernon and District executive director Julia Payson with a $10,000 grant to fund the Youth Mental Health Connections program. (contributed)

Telus invests in North Okanagan youth’s mental health

$10K grant will go towards in-class education, reducing stigma

Vernon youth, between the ages of 12 and 18, will learn more about mental health in the classroom thanks to a generous $10,000 grant from Telus Future Friendly Foundation.

One in seven youth in British Columbia will experience a mental illness and 50-70 per cent of illnesses present themselves before the age of 18 impacting the child’s development.

“Reducing the stigma around mental illness and ensuring youth are equipped with the right support and awareness from a young age is s important,” Telus Thompson Okanagan Community Board chair Sean Pihl said.

The funds granted by Telus will support the Vernon and District Canadian Mental Health Association’s Youth Mental Health Connections program to provide in-school mental health education to North Okanagan youth.

“I’m so happy to see this initiative underway here in the Okanagan, and for the Telus Future Friendly Foundation to provide this important program with financial support,” Pihl said.

Youth Mental Health Connections equips students in School Districts 22 and 83 with the tools and knowledge to manage mental health through healthy relationships, peer support and intervention practices.

North Okanagan students will learn about anxiety, depression, self-harm and substance abuse in small group sessions. There, they will discuss and learn more about available resources, coping skills and ways to become more resilient.

“What we do today helps set the path to a healthy future for young people in our community,” CMHA Vernon executive director Julia Payson said.

“Another critical part of Youth Mental Health Connections is listening to students and their concerns,” Payson said. “We need to show young people that we hear them and their voice and experiences are important to us.”

The funding from Telus will enable CMHA Vernon to serve more than 500 students this calendar year, Payson said.

The program not only benefits the students, but teachers, youth leaders and school Parent Advisory Committees who can undergo education seminars through the program.

“The generosity from Telus Friendly Future Foundation shows their commitment to early intervention and prevention for our youth,” Payson said. “This will save lives.”

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Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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