BY MELISSA SMITH
It’s a new name and a new campaign. With the Niagara Child and Youth Service’s recent name change to Pathstone Mental Health (PMH), plans are to “extinguish” the stigma of mental illness.
Ellis Katsof, chief executive officer of PMH, announced at the annual general meeting Sept. 21, residents should “stay tuned because there will be exciting news.” “Sept. 28 we will be announcing a large new funding for the agency. It is larger than I’ve ever participated in or seen from in my history of over 30 years,” said Katsof.Inviting Emily Cannon, 14, of St. Catharines to the podium, guests learned of her life living with bipolar disorder since she was five years old.
“I am bipolar. The story of my mental illness doesn’t just start at the age of four. It starts at birth,” said Cannon.
She gazed out at the guests, sharing her memories of “demons in my dreams, the loss of my father, school bullying, my best friend, and, most importantly, my mother.”
“People at school treated me like a virus that could be contagious,” said Cannon. “I felt like I was a piece of crap. I would sit in [the washroom] stall and cry on my breaks.”
Through tough times, Cannon said that once she met her best friend, she was able to “go outside and be somebody and not sit in the stalls anymore.”
Allan Spaan, PMH board president, was pleased to explain there was a “new plan and new name.”
“What’s so important about the new name, you may ask,” said Spaan. “It’s two words: mental health. We are now one of three systems who include the words [mental and health]. We need to break through the stigma of mental health, so we should include it in our name.”
With staff from across the province attending, one of Ontario Trillium Foundation’s chairs, Christine Clark presented a grant to PMH making the “environment granted healthier.”
“There are more than one million grants given a year. It is wonderful to know grants are going to children and we [Ontario Trillium Foundation] really do wish you the very best,” said Clark.
Appreciating the help given to PMH, Katsof announced “starting in January you will find this tagline and logo.”
He showed guests a logo reading, “Shatter the Stigma. Mend
Within Cannon’s presentation, after thanking her mother and best friend, she emphasized, “The most important message to any person with a mental illness is you are the best people that I know. I hope for great things to you and, through all the craziness, it will come with good things.”
Following the presentation, Cannon added by saying anyone with a mental illness should “stay strong, believe in yourself, and if you are having problems with anything to call to a counsellor or someone trustworthy.”
Cannon also noted she is involved with Parents for Children’s Mental Health, St. Catharines. More information is at www.pcmh.ca.
For more information about Pathstone Mental Health, see www.pathstonementalhealth.ca.
Manager of Niagara College’s Student Services Sheryl Jones said on-campus professional and medical services that “support students’ academic and personal success, health and well-being” are
Jones writes that “approximately 20 per cent of students who access the Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSWD) have a psychiatric diagnosis requiring academic accommodations.
“Triggers can include stress, a biological pre-disposition, history of trauma, issues from a student’s family of origin, drug/alcohol use or abuse, change in living environment, symptoms of another underlying disability and more.”
Jones stated, “Student Services’ professionals are available to assess, assist and provide non-judgmental intervention and support, especially in time of crisis. We work together with students, faculty and college staff to help students find the right path.”
Students at Niagara College can find the CSWD in room SE102 at the Welland campus and in room W102 an the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.