Victoria Brewster, MSW

Victoria Brewster, MSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
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Student Creates a Mental Health Program for Youth

Imagine being a student who at age 16 tries to end their life for the 7th time. Dustin Garron made the most serious attempt on his life which resulted on his being placed on life support for a week in intensive care. He survived and the recovery process he went through led him to a new point in his life. He has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. He describes suicide as being complex,

“Every case is different and there’s a specific context in every case.” Underlying factors=suicidal tendencies. “There is a strong association between mental illness and suicide. Amoung individuals who have died by suicide, 80 to 90 percent have been or could be diagnosed with mental illness.”

Early intervention and mental health promotion regarding awareness, information, statistics and facts can have an impact on lowering the percentage of suicides. A lack of coping skills, inadequate support or support systems, drug or alcohol abuse/use, and self-medicating can increase the risk of suicide. Days after being released from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Garron founded the Mental Health Project for Youth (2011).

“I understand how stressful today’s world is for teenagers. We face such a wide variety of stressors at school, with siblings and families, in relationships, over body image or memories. “

Garron states that a turning point for him was January to March of 2011 when his family went through a financial crisis-cell phones, internet, TV were gone. He ended a relationship at this time as well.  This may all seem small or trivial to outsiders, but for a teenager can be difficult. For those that are able to afford cellphones, TV and internet, losing them; having the power go off are disruptions. As a society we have come to rely on all of these amenities as a standard part of our lives. These services cost money and some who are in the lower socioeconomic bracket or are classified as poor-these are luxuries. Shelter, food, clothing, and access to transportation are more important.

The organization was created as a non-profit in May 2012 and keeps Garron busy while he is working on a degree at Carleton University in Ottawa with a focus on Women and Gender Studies. He hopes to attend graduate school to focus on non-profit management in the future.

Here in Canada to help with education and awareness along with fundraising for Mental Health issues, Bell Canada has developed a promotion called  Let’s Talk. On February 12th of this year, Bell’s  Let’s Talk Day, will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives across Canada for every:

  • Text message sent*
  • Long distance call made*
  • Facebook share of our Bell Let’s Talk image

by a Bell or Bell Aliant customer. The idea is to talk and reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. A ‘tool kit’ has been created that one can download to learn more facts, information and how to spread the word.

Initiatives like this are creative and if mental health awareness becomes routine in the sense that more organizations, educational facilities, local and federal governments become involved, than mental health issues and mental illness can become more understood and accepted.

*Written by Victoria Brewster, MSW
SJS Staff Writer in Canada*

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