Smiths Falls to shine a green light on mental health issues

Water Tower-SF
Posted on: April 11, 2017

Chris Must
editorial@pdgmedia.ca

The need for improved mental health services for children will be in the spotlight across Canada during the first week of May.

Dr. Kevin Clouthier, executive director of Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth, spoke at an April 10 meeting of Smiths Falls town council’s Committee of the Whole to ask the town to get involved in a special awareness campaign.

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During the Shine Green Campaign, a prominent public building or landscape in participating communities will be bathed in green light to draw awareness to mental health issues affecting young people.  In the past, landmarks such as the CN Tower and Niagara Falls have been lit up as part of the campaign.

Mayor Shawn Pankow and fellow members of council expressed support for the campaign, and suggested that given the short amount of time leading up to Children’s Mental Health Week, May 1-6, the town water tower was a natural landmark to choose. Councillor Chris Cummings noted that the water tower is already illuminated at night, and that it should be relatively easy to turn the lights green for a week.

Clouthier said the campaign is needed because despite Canada’s status as an advanced and progressive country, a national mental policy on children’s mental health is still lacking. “We have a non-system of non-care,” he said.

The need for improvement is urgent, said Clouthier. One in five children is already experiencing mental health problems. Seventy per cent of adult mental health problems began in childhood, and collectively mental illness costs the Canadian economy $50 billion a year.

“I’d like to get behind this,” said Pankow.

Another local campaign for mental health awareness will take place on the Cataraqui Trail Saturday, June 10.

Katherine Scott of The Difference Club at Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute also spoke to councillors April 10 about plans for the Colour Run, which will raise funds and awareness for the cause. Runners are decorated in colourful paint, which the organizers assured everyone is environmentally friendly.

Councillor Lorraine Allen, who volunteered at last year’s Colour Run, said, “Not only was it fun, it really raised the issues around mental health.”