Initiatives supporting youth mental health in Lanark County

Posted on: March 20, 2018

Submitted by Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth

Open this year, Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth is launching a campaign focused on community engagement. The accredited child and youth mental health agency has been serving the communities of Lanark County for more than 22 years. As the stigma around mental health issues subside it is becoming evident that by supporting the youngest members of our communities we can create more resilient and productive communities.

Open Doors has a mission to make it possible for Lanark County children and youth with mental health needs to live, learn and thrive. Executive Director Kevin Clouthier explains “We believe that one of the most beneficial practices to achieve change with a single child or youth is to establish a strong relationship based in trust.” As an extension of that model, the agency hopes to be more engaged with the communities it serves to encourage conversations and an awareness of mental health struggles in our area. Clouthier says “We continue to strive to build these relationships and engage the community so that citizens can join us to create strong social networks.  To continue our goal to achieve these ends we are pursuing projects to connect with our community to make a difference.”  

Coming up the agency has a number of events planned. On March 26 it will host Dr. Michael Ungar at Perth and District Collegiate Institute from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. where he will give a free presentation entitled “I Still Love You: Nine Things Kids Need from their Parents, Caregivers, and Schools to Build Resilience.” It is a story-filled presentation for parents, caregivers and educators full of practical strategies to help young people of all ages heal.

Based on material from his new book, “I Still Love You,” Dr. Ungar will discuss the power of unconditional love in this inspiring presentation. It’s free to attend, the agency encourages attendees to bring a non-perishable food donation for the Lanark County Food Bank.

You will also find the Open Doors team this summer at the Healthy Living Festival in Smiths Falls (June 16), Stewart Park Music Festival in Perth (July 14) and Bridge Street Summerfest in Carleton Place (August 4) where they will be hosting an open air art show and sale of local artists’ creations. The show is called “The Art of Resilience” and is not only a showcase of local art but also an opportunity to raise awareness and fundraise for their youth programs.

If you are a local artist in any medium and are interested in participating in this show please contact admincp@opendoors.on.ca. There will be prizes in three age categories (child, youth and adult) for each community show and it’s an excellent opportunity to support this vital not-for-profit in our county.

Children’s Mental Health Week is May 7 to May 13 and in addition to the Green Light Campaign, which raises awareness each year, Open Doors will also be hosting a Youth Recognition Event to acknowledge and celebrate resilient young people in our communities. The event will be held at the Station Theatre in Smiths Falls on May 8 from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Other projects that will be coming up in 2018 include efforts to launch a Mobile Mental Health Unit to serve the rural areas of Lanark County, increased youth engagement activities, additional speaker series and of course their Annual General Meeting in June to be hosted in Carleton Place.

Chair of the Open Doors Board Terri Brady adds, “If you are interested in becoming involved with Open Doors and want to make a difference by helping steer the organization, then consider joining our Board of Directors.  We are in need of a broad range of talents and skills and would appreciate the support of community members. Contact us for more information.” 

To stay up to date on the great projects they have planned this year, to volunteer or to donate please visit Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth online at www.opendoors.on.ca, follow us on social media or sign up for our newsletter at admincp@opendoors.on.ca.