Youth Mental Health

youth-mental-healthAsk any parent, grandparent, youth worker, teacher, coach – in fact, ask anyone that knows and/or works with children or youth – and they’ll say that kids are a precious and vulnerable resource.

But it can be very tough going for kids these days. There are a host of pitfalls and obstacles to deal with – from family breakdown to addictions to bullying to learning disabilities to abuse to self esteem issues to suicide. Some of these are “normal” challenges and most kids, most of the time, get through them.

For many youth, these are not simple challenges to be overcome. Added to the mix may be a mental illness that makes life that much more complicated and perhaps even overwhelming.

Did you know:

  • over 50% of all mental illness shows up by the age of 13;
  • in any classroom in Canada, one in five kids will suffer from mental illness;
  • only 20% of those kids will receive any treatment at all even though 80% of all mental illness is treatable if you seek help;
  • Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents.

Youth mental illness ultimately affects us all. In 2008 a report was written by Bernard Richard and published by the Office of the Ombudsman in New Brunswick called Connecting the Dots. This report lists 48 recommendations and provides a blueprint for going forward.

In 2010 Maureen Bilerman organized an event in Fredericton that made national news when 1200 people came out and physically connected the dots, fingertip-to-fingertip, from the Mental Health Centre to the Legislative Building (1.3 km). As the mother of a teenager with serious mental health challenges, she wanted to encourage the government to move forward with better treatment and services for kids’ mental health by showing how important a public issue it really is in this province.

Last year Dots NB encouraged churches in Fredericton, NB to ring their bells in support of kids’ mental health.

This year the campaign has grown to include the entire province of New Brunswick and plans are already underway to expand the campaign next year to include all of the Atlantic Provinces. This year, with the help of Bell Aliant, the Dots for Kids Day—RING A BELL Campaign for mental health is connecting communities right across New Brunswick.

This is an invitation for your church – if you’re in New Brunswick – to join this campaign by ringing your church bell for one minute, starting at 12 noon on Friday, December 7. By doing this you will be joining students in grades six, seven and eight who will be ringing bells in communities across the province.

What can you do?

  1. Join the campaign. Ring the bell in your church, if you have one, or go to the campaign website ( and register your church and/or ring the virtual bell and add your name to those who support the objective of this campaign – to demonstrate to youth that they are part of caring communities and to encourage our government to continue its efforts to address youth mental health issues.
  2. Here’s a notice that you can put in your church bulletin:
    Dots for Kids Day—RING A BELL Campaign
    On Friday, December 7th you may hear church bells ringing out in your community for one full minute at 12 noon to mark Dots for Kids Day in New Brunswick. It is part of the RING A BELL Campaign for kids’ mental health and a movement toward improved treatment and services for children and youth in this province. Thanks to Dots NB and Bell Aliant, over 20,000 students in grades six, seven and eight will also be ringing bells for change. To learn more about Dots for Kids Day visit and you can “ring” the Dots NB bell online and show your support.
  3. Join the Rapha Network Facebook group to share ideas and resources around mental health and mental illness –
  4. Learn more about youth mental health issues at: