With isolation from their peers and disruptions to routines causing anxiety and depression to skyrocket among youth, Jewish Federation is taking important new steps to address this important issue.
In addition to making youth mental health a focus of the Annual Campaign, with a generous gift from the Mel and Geri Davis Charitable Trust, we have formed a committee comprised of communal professionals, volunteers and family members and have developed a comprehensive approach to not only help young people but support the whole family.
This plan incorporates hiring a community mental health professional to provide counselling in a variety of community locations; collaborating with other mental health organizations to provide professional development to those working on the front line with children and youth; and working directly with youth and young adults to take leadership roles in raising awareness among their peers about the importance of accessing appropriate support.
A recent University of Calgary study found that youth mental health issues doubled when compared to pre-pandemic times. Echoing this global report, demand for counseling services doubled at one local Jewish school, indicating that our community is not immune.
COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on mental health issues, which has provided more opportunities to speak openly about it. Reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues has also exposed the gaps in availability of tailored services for children and youth and support for the whole family, both here in our community and beyond.
Children and youth aren’t always able to describe what they are experiencing or feeling. They may feel ashamed of their reactions and avoid talking about it. Without the appropriate support and treatment the issues only become worse. This not only effects the individual child, but creates a ripple effect on the entire family. From parents struggling to find appropriate resources, to siblings feeling the stress of their parents and wishing that life would return to normal, to the youth who feel shame and guilt that their issues are causing problems for the family.
The formation of the committee and the development of a strategic approach is just the beginning. With your help, and in collaboration with our partners, we can support opportunities to provide more holistic and specialized services aimed at youth, ranging from prevention to intervention.
Your gift to the Annual Campaign will help ensure youth and their families can access the resources that they need.