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BC youth summits break the silence to end stigma about mental health

Vancouver – One day, in the near future, we see a society where stigma related to mental health does not exist - a shared vision of youth coming together for the annual Balancing Our Minds summits across BC.
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Today kicks off the first of five summits, which are free one-day events led by youth, for youth to talk about mental health, break down stigma and connect people to resources in their communities.

The Okanagan BOM hosts high school students from across the region at the Penticton Community Centre, with two-time Grey Cup champion Shea Emry providing a keynote speech and leading an outdoor breakout session.
“We are proud to kick off the first Balancing Our Minds summit of 2017 right here in the community of Penticton. We hope to change the way students in the Okanagan and across BC think and talk about mental health,” said Victoria Richie, Penticton High student and youth organizer with the BOM Okanagan summit. “This is a great chance for us to work together, support each other and share ideas to make a real difference to end the stigma surrounding mental health.”
Youth from the local community will share their personal mental health and wellness experiences; discuss breaking down stigma and ways to promote a positive body image, along with a chance to get active with a guided yoga practice. Local organizations will be on hand to speak with students about healthy living tools and resources available. 
“The Balancing Our Minds youth summits create a safe platform for youth to hear from youth who’ve experienced mental health challenges, learn about resources in their communities and what they can do locally to support mental health and wellness,” said Paul Irving, a BC Children’s Hospital Health Literacy representative.
Four summits are scheduled from April to May:
  • Surrey School District: April 26th, 2017 
  • Oceanside: May 3rd, 2017
  • Capital Region District: May 4th, 2017
  • Northern BOM: May 24th, 2017
The summits are an initiative of BC Children’s Hospital, supported by the Canucks for Kids Fund. The Okanagan BOM has more than 200 registered to participate.
Quick Facts:
  • An initiative of BC Children’s Hospital, the Balancing Our Minds summit began in Vancouver, attracting more than 1,000 annually since its inception in 2014.
  • The event was inspired by the idea that an important first step to change how mental health is discussed and perceived is to bring together youth and educators from across the province to participate in thoughtful discussions, and share ideas on how to better promote mental health and wellness.
  • John-Tyler Binfet, an assistant professor and researcher with UBC Okanagan, will also speak about kindness and wellbeing in the classroom setting.
  • Nearly 13 per cent of children and youth aged 4 -17 years (approximately 84,000) in BC experience clinically significant mental disorders at any given time (that is three-to-four children in a classroom of 30)
  • More than 16,000 visits to BC Children's Hospital were made by children and youth with existing and emerging mental health problems 
  • 1,063 children and youth sought treatment for psychiatric issues through the hospital
  • 325 children and youth were admitted to inpatient units at the hospital
  • More than 244,000 parents and families visited the BC Children's Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre website to access resources and information in 2015-16.
Learn More:
BC Children’s Hospital, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority provides expert care for the province’s most seriously ill or injured children, youth and young adults, including newborns. Child and Youth Mental Health provides a diverse range of specialized and one-of-a-kind tertiary mental health and concurrent disorders services for children, adolescents and young adults across the province. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @BCChildrensHosp.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.
Media Contact:
Heather Puzzella
Communications Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
Media pager 778.867.7472
BC Children's Hospital; mental health; balancing our minds
Children's Health
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