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Children’s Mental Health Week 2019 — Day 4 — Get a Check-Up from the Neck Up!

So for anyone who doesn’t know it already, I’m one of the eleven digital ambassadors for Children’s Mental Health Ontario, doing what we can to shed light on children’s mental health in our province and all the stories that come with it. I’ve been at it for a little while now, joining their #kidscantwait Twitter chats, supporting fellow ambassadors’ initiatives, and steadily learning more about the many faces mental health has out there in the world.

But why do I do it?

This is Why I’m a Children’s Mental Health Ontario Ambassador.

Admittedly, my interactions with mental health issues have been scarce. I did suffer a nervous breakdown at sixteen because I never learned how to say “no”. And it took me years to get over my shame of not succeeding at private school, but I eventually understood I had to have that experience to set me down the path I’m walking now.

But it’s not a path I’d ever want my kids to travel themselves.

I already see the sparks of intelligence in my boys, understanding things about the world around them at a far earlier age than I expected—but I’m not trying to push them.

For better or worse, my generation grew up in a culture of perfection. Our emotions weren’t in the equation—our parents raised us for performance, our lives graded on a pass/fail scale.

But that’s not how it works with kids today, with mindfulness exercises in kindergarten and toddler yoga in daycare. I’m seeing that—in the school system, at least—mental health is working itself into the conversation, wanting our kids to be happy instead of “successful“.

And I’m all for it. Things like being an ambassador for Children’s Mental Health Ontario let me invest in my children’s futures, if not financially, then by pushing the ideas that help shape the world I want to see them in—a better one than the one we have today.

But that’s just my story—my ten peers had very different reasons for joining the #kidscantwait movement.

And Laurie McCann, amongst other reasons, is in it for the sake of her daughter.

Laurie McCann and Why Our Children’s Mental Health Matters.

Laurie McCann—mom, anti-bullying advocate, and Toronto police officer—faced children’s mental illness head-on when her daughter started suffering mental illness at an early age. And the question she had to ask herself was this—where would she find the help she needed in a world that didn’t value children’s mental health issues the same way it did with the physical ones?

Laurie put it well:

“If you walked into a doctor’s office and said, I need to see a doctor about a broken arm, they are not going to tell us to come back in eight to 12 months, they’re going to help you. But when your child has a mental health crisis, they are like…well… we can’t fit you in until six months down the road, and that’s not helping anybody.”

No—what Laurie and so many other parents’ stories go to show you is that we’ve still got a very long way to go, and with any luck, these interviews can play a role in moving our children’s mental health care system in that direction.

So without further ado, here’s the Chatting with Casey Children’s Mental Health Week special, Day Four: Get a Check-Up from the Neck Up—a chat with Laurie McCann.

I hope you enjoy it!

And that’s it for this one—when we unify our voices, our messages are louder and more likely to be heard! You too can join the #kidscantwait movement, but for the meantime, be well out there!

Until the next, I remain,

–case p.

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