The Town of Carleton Place is looking to light one of its buildings green during Children’s Mental Health Week, running May 1-7.
The Green Light campaign is part of a provincial effort to help eliminate stigma and raise awareness of the extent of mental health challenges faced by young people. Last year, over 70 Ontario buildings and landmarks were lit green in support of the effort, from Toronto’s CN Tower to Niagara Falls.
Kevin Clouthier, executive director of Open Doors for Lanark Children and Youth, told the Carleton Place Community Issues Committee on March 21 that 20 per cent of young people are facing mental health problems, and 70 per cent of adults dealing with everything from anxiety to depression report that their issues began during childhood.
In addition to the emotional pain suffered by this significant segment of the population, Clouthier said, mental health issues annually cost the Canadian economy $50 billion in lost productivity, a number expected to rise to $2.5 trillion by the year 2041. He said Canada has been late responding to the health crisis, noting that prior to 2012 this country was the only G8 nation without a national mental health strategy.
“But it’s not all doom and gloom,” Clouthier concluded, pointing out that awareness campaigns like Green Light add to a national conversation that reduces the shame associated with mental health issues while contributing to the development of necessary programs.
Clouthier gifted the town a symbolic green LED light to help offset any potential costs associated with the project, while committee members discussed how the Green Light campaign could serve as a template for similar colour-coded awareness campaigns throughout the year.