Discussion panel tackles growing youth substance abuse in Vernon - InfoNews

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Discussion panel tackles growing youth substance abuse in Vernon

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November 23, 2017 - 3:43 PM

VERNON - It’s a problem that continues to grow at an exponential rate; youth substance abuse and the mental health struggles attached to that abuse.

Addictions are one of the most dangerous and destructive issues facing youth in our community, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Today, 85 per cent of Canadian teenagers have consumed alcohol and 50 per cent have consumed illegal drugs. The most at risk to develop addictions are youth under the age of 25.

“Much of this increase is due to technology and social media as well as the prevalence of bullying, which was always there, but is much different today,” Cassandra Schwarz, community engagement and fund development officer at the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vernon, says in a media release.

In an effort to provide further support and respond to demand from parents who often feel lost on the subject, the association's Suicide Awareness Group, the Mental Illness Family Support Centre and the North Okanagan Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Local Action Team have come together to host a panel and Community Resource Fair tonight, Nov. 23, in Vernon.

Schwarz says the evening is expected to generate some productive and illuminating discussion between youth, parents and professionals. It will give one another a different perspective on the issue.

"Tonight will provide a collaborative approach to understanding and helping everyone in the community with this issue,” she says.

Dr. Michael Ocana will lead a discussion on Youth Addictions: Prevention through Relationships to be followed by a panel discussion to include Dr. Kevin Miller; Doug Rogers, school district 22 substance abuse prevention counsellor, and a parent and youth with lived experience. 

“Prevention is the key to helping youth in our community. We need to explore what we are doing to help kids make better choices to lead healthier lives. Youth today are faced with unique challenges and it is more important than ever that schools, services providers and family members get actively involved in the lives of their kids,” Rogers says in the release.

“Prevention and early intervention are critical strategies in addressing youth substance use. We are thrilled to we can discuss relationships as prevention as a community,” Mental Health Association executive director Julia Payson says in the release. 

The Panel and Resource Fair takes place this evening, Nov. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Centre auditorium with the presentation and panel discussion at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

To learn more about the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon Branch or to make a donation to improve mental health in our community, visit the website www.vernon.cmha.bc.ca or call 250-542-3114.


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