Standing up in front of a classroom full of teenagers is a daunting challenge for anyone, it’s a tough crowd to please and they’re all zeroed in on you. Yet this is exactly where Mckeyah Bruneau had found herself standing, and she just couldn’t do it. She was up there facing everyone’s worst nightmare, and she was frozen. Couldn’t move, at the mercy of the mob. But she hadn’t really had a choice in the first place. After a rough few months, teachers had begun to notice that she wasn’t as involved in her school work and they had given her an ultimatum “ participate or get out”. Unfortunately for kids like Mckeyah, that isn’t always possible without the help and support of a community mental health centre.
Mckeyah had just broken up with a boyfriend who had been dealing with major depressive disorder. His illness had been a major stressor in the relationship and had compounded with some of her own mental health issues to make things more difficult. After their breakup Mckeyah found herself unable to concentrate, self-harming, having anxiety attacks and dealing with severe anger issues. However, after being referred to the North Eastern Ontario Family and Children’s Services (NEOFACS) she was able to gain the tools that she needs to control her anger and anxiety. Being able to access treatment in her own community has enabled Mckeyah to begin claiming her life back.
When Mckeyah has been having a mental health crisis, she has been able to access care at NEOFACS the day that she is in crisis, councilors have come directly to her at school during the school day, in addition to being able to schedule weekly appointments that coincide with her extra curriculars. This flexibility and availability has enabled Mckeyah to receive the care that she needs, when she needs it. Because of this support and access to treatment, things are going much better today. She has not self-harmed since she has begun receiving care at NEOFACS, she has been able to stay in school and now knows how to better control her anger and anxiety. At 16 years old Mckeyah isn’t stuck frozen in front of the classroom anymore, in fact at this year’s Disable the Label retreat, she was centre stage , on her own, singing a song she had made up just for the occasion.
Mckeyah is doing better, she is working everyday to be in control of her own mental health, but without having access to a community child and youth mental health centre, where would she be? There are currently over 12,000 kids in Ontario who are waiting up to 18 months to receive the care that they need, if they receive care at all. Many of them do not have these resources available in their community and must leave their homes and their families to get the care they need. That’s not right.
We need an immediate investment into kids mental health to ensure that our kids can access the treatment they need in under 30 days. Let’s make sure we don’t leave any other kids frozen at the front of the classroom without help. Our kids can’t wait any longer. Talk with your local MPP today.