Better access to youth mental health supports only a pedal away for Aurora mom

As a mom, she has seen how the challenges of COVID-19 have impacted youth.

As a cycling enthusiast, Judy Brunton, joined by her sons, is once again preparing to hit the road for the Canadian Mental Health Association of York Region and South Simcoe.

This Sunday, June 13, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York Region and South Simcoe will officially kick off their virtual Mental Health in Motion fundraiser, one which encourages people to run, walk and ride – at any time, any place – to raise money for youth mental health programs.

“A staggering 75 per cent of all adults report the onset of their mental illness in adolescence,” says Rebecca Shields, CEO of the CMHA York Region and South Simcoe. “Now more than ever, it is critical we provide youth with accessible and robust mental health supports at this pivotal point in their lives. We are so grateful to our donors, participants and supporters, especially Staples Canada, who have the foresight to see the dire effect the pandemic is having on everyone’s mental health, particularly our youth, and are stepping up to make a difference.”

Ms. Brunton saw from an early age the difference mental health programs can have on youth after her sister was diagnosed with a mental health challenge in her late teens and is now in her 40s.

“She got amazing care when she was a youth from the program,” says Ms. Brunton, who is preparing to embark on the 20k ride with her kids. “I am doing this in honour of her because I want the youth in our area to get as much support as they can – as she did when she was a youth.”

Ms. Brunton has been a top supporter of the CMHA over the last decade, raising money for the organization in many ways beyond the ride, including marketplaces when health restrictions allowed.

Given our present circumstances, she is particularly keen to get on her bike once again when youth are facing more challenges now than they ever have before.

“At the beginning and around the middle [of the most recent waves], it was horrible because the youth couldn’t see their friends, they couldn’t graduate properly. They had to stay inside all the time and if they already had mental health issues to begin with – just being youth stuck in the house, if you don’t have mental health issues, it can get to you. It can bring on depression and anxiety because you’re not allowed to see your friends or leave. It is not the same as seeing friends over a computer as it is in person.

“I want to do as much as I can for MOBYSS (the CMHA’s youth mental health bus, which provides on-site programs for youth where they are, such as schools). Right now, the buses aren’t running, but the youth get help from the MOBYSS team virtually or over the phone. It will definitely help them. They will need as much support as they can get from professionals because not all youth have supportive parents or family who understand what is going on with them because there is still a huge stigma surrounding mental health. I am just glad money goes to that because we have to get them the help when they need it.”

Registration for the CMHA’s virtual Mental Health in Motion event is free and flexible with residents being able to chose how and when they get involved, whether it is riding 5km, 10km, 20km, 100km, or choosing your own adventure.
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