On an otherwise ordinary early summer evening, my then-12-year-old daughter retreated to her bedroom and took a massive dose of extra-strength Tylenol. She had been going through a very tough time at school and was looking for a way to numb the pain.
Through sheer good fortune, my husband and I managed to pick up on the fact that something was terribly wrong and to get her to the hospital in time.
That was the beginning of our mental health journey as a family — a journey that could have just as easily ended in tragedy that night.
I get a shiver down my spine as I type this: We were lucky. Very, very lucky. But parents shouldn't have to count on luck to keep their children safe. Not when we have so much knowledge about what is needed to prevent and treat mental health difficulties in children. And not when our country has the financial resources to tackle this issue head-on.
Haven’t children and families waited long enough for Canada to get serious about investing in child and youth mental health? I think the answer is yes—which is why I am urging you to take a moment to write to your Member of Parliament to insist that some of Canada’s forecasted budget surplus be invested in child and youth mental health.
Partners for Mental Health has made it easy too: just complete the form here and a letter will be sent on your behalf.
We need to get thousands of people raising their voices in order to send a strong signal that Canadians care about this issue. We need to let them know that counting on luck isn’t good enough. Canadian children and families deserve better.
- Ann Douglas
Note: A copy of this letter has been sent to supporters of Partners for Mental Health, a mental health charity that is seeking to "transform the way Canadians think about, act towards and support mental health and people living with a mental illness."
Ann Douglas is the author of Parenting Through the Storm: How to Handle the Highs, the Lows, and Everything in Between (a guide to parenting a child with a mental health, neurodevelopmental, or behavioural challenge). She is also an engaging and inspiring speaker who sparks important conversations about parenting and mental health.