I wish to thank you very much for the editorial (March 14, 2013) regarding the issue of mental illness. It was indeed interesting to see the recognition that you give to the issue of mental illness as referenced in the 2008 Roots of Youth Violence Report.
There has not been much attention given to the issue of mental illness and its impact on the prevailing problem of youth violence, especially as it pertains to the African-Canadian community. You rightfully stated that the Roots of Youth Violence Report referred to “mental illness as a factor that contributes to anti-social and sometimes criminal youth activity but it is a very broad and brief reference”.
More importantly, you correctly noted that such “relatively brief reference” underscores the need for more in-depth study of the causal relations between these two major societal problems. The problem of youth killing themselves and/or killing each other is an alarming situation, both in the Province of Ontario and across Canada.
It is important to note that a recent report from a commission on mental health at Queen’s University in Ontario and also cited in Maclean’s magazine (September 10, 2012) that “after motor vehicle accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death in Canadians aged 10-24 years old”.
Your editorial was very valuable in highlighting the matter of depression as a significant mental health problem being experienced by a growing number of Black males. Similarly, depression is one of the most prevalent mental health problems experienced by young people across Canada and the United States of America.
The recent cover stories (Maclean’s and Humber College’s Dialogue magazine) on the alarming rate of mental health problems affecting young people at our universities and colleges across Canada should create the need for greater attention to this matter.
One could only begin to fathom that if mental illness is such a major problem facing young people in the general population, then what is the impact and consequence of the “situational depression” that your editorial appropriately cited, as a mental health issue being experienced by Black youth in some of our “high-risk neighbourhoods”? However, the most important statement in your editorial was the acknowledgement you made in citing that “what is urgently needed is a more enlightened grasp of mental illness among Black communities”.
To this end, I wish to bring to your attention that Elevated Grounds, which is cast of talented youth (African-Canadian and other racialized youths) who have lived experiences with mental illness, is very much involved in utilizing the performing arts and an interactive “talk-back” session to increase awareness of mental illness and to promote mental health and wellness, especially among youth.
To date, the Elevated Grounds presentation has been seen by audiences of over 50,000 people, mostly students in high schools across the province and even youth in the Roy McMurtry Youth Detention Centre in Brampton.
This past school year, Elevated Grounds has undertaken presentations in over 20 high schools in Kitchener-Waterloo alone. Presentations also were well-received at two of our prominent high schools, respectively, in the Jane-Finch and Malvern areas of Toronto. Just two weeks ago, Elevated Grounds completed 11 presentations over a five-day-period in a number of schools within the Bruce-Grey Peninsula in north-western Ontario.
Elevated Grounds is very interested in undertaking presentations in our schools in Toronto and the GTA and also in partnership with organizations in the Black community. For more details, please see our website at www.elevatedgrounds.com.