Youth mental health support series popular on the West Shore

Next Wednesday's parent-led workshop is sold out with a wait list

West Shore parents are speaking out about the need for more conversation surrounding mental health, and their voices are not falling on deaf ears.

“We ask the parents what they want to learn about and create the workshops … We wish we could do it more often,” said Jen Harrison, youth and family engagement co-ordinator of the South Island Division of Family Practice. “The West Shore and Sooke are growing so fast, getting these kinds of things in place is imperative as we continue to grow.”

The latest installment of the Parent Education and Support Group Workshop Series, Managing Anxiety: Strategies to help your child cope with ‘back to school’ worries, is set to run next Wednesday in Langford. But with 30 people already registered and another seven on a wait list, the event is sold out.

“This is the second workshop we’ve done for parents on the West Shore,” Harrison noted. “The attendance continues to grow … It tells us that so much support is needed for parents and families.”

Sean Boulet, an occupational therapist with the children’s mental heath facility Ledger House, will lead participants in Wednesday’s workshop through tips and tricks that can help regulate those overwhelming feelings. He will also address the effect anxiety can have on a child’s processing ability and how they cope with stress.

The goal of the workshops is to provide families the tools they need to address mental health concerns and by doing so, to lower the wait lists for children’s mental health services in the region.

The support group conducted a survey in the three high schools in the Sooke School District, asking what types of issues for which youth were going to see doctors. Mental health concerns were one of the top three responses in all of the schools.

Harrison said there is clearly a need for more services for students and their parents, but the group also hopes the workshops will inspire more general conversation around mental health.

While some workshops in the series are guided by experts in specific fields, others are being run by parents with first-hand experience in the topic being discussed. The series is organized and run by a group of parent volunteers.

The program is an initiative of the Sooke and West Shore Local Action Team and is supported by the South Island Division of Family Practice, West Shore Parks and Recreation and The FORCE Society for Kids’ Mental Health.

Parents or guardians who are unable to attend the workshop, and are looking for more information or want to get otherwise involved, can contact Harrison at 250-216-8389 or by email at westshoresookelat@gmail.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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