When Katelyn was 12 years old she began seeking treatment for her anxiety. Katelyn was overwhelmed and in constant panic mode. Her anxiety had gotten so bad that she was becoming physically ill in the mornings. Everything had reached such an unbearable point that she knew things could not continue the way they had been going. So, she did what many do when looking for mental health care and she turned to her family doctor to find help in her community.

Eventually, Katelyn found her way to the Lynwood Charlton Centre, a publicly funded child and youth mental health centre in Hamilton, Ontario.

At Lynwood , Katelyn was able to access the forms of treatment that she so desperately needed to thrive and to succeed. One of the types of treatment that was most beneficial for her turned out to be group therapy. It was shortly after beginning group therapy that she began to see an improvement in the level of anxiety she was experiencing.

Being able to access the care that she needs has helped to set Katelyn on a whole new path. Her physical health has improved, she no longer gets sick in the mornings. A weight has been lifted off of her shoulders and she no longer worries about how she presents herself to others. Instead, Katelyn has been able to find a more honest way to show who she is to the people around her.

Today, Katelyn is a thriving 17-year-old who is an integral part of her community. She has joined Compass, a day treatment program at Lynwood that helps kids and teens whose mental health issues may interfere with traditional schooling. As an older student here, Katelyn is able to work with other kids and youth who are currently in the same position she was just a few years ago. She works to help them deal with their anxiety and depression and to find the support they need to get better. She also works hard to help raise awareness of mental health issues and to promote mental wellness by organizing community nature walks. We met Katelyn at the 2018 Disable the Label hosted by The New Mentality, where she attended in her role as a community leader for reducing stigma around mental health. Here we met a smart, funny, kind and welcoming young woman with a bright future ahead of her.

The progress that Katelyn has made has come through her own hard work and through the support and treatment she received at the Lynwood Charlton Centre. But there are so many more children and youth like Katelyn out there who are still waiting for this type of treatment. In Ontario there are 12,000 children and youth waiting up to 18 months for mental health care that isn’t available in their communities. At CMHO we think that every child should be able to find the mental health care they need, close to home. We want every kid in Ontario to be able to have a future like Katelyn’s.

This World Mental Health Day, we need to come together and let the new government know that our kids can’t wait for mental health care.Talk with your local MPP today