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YouthSpeak Promotes Mental Health by Giving Students a Voice

LOOK LOCAL – Approximately 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. And yet, less than 20 percent will receive appropriate treatment.

Improving the mental health of young people in Canada requires the collective engagement and participation of parents, educators, health professionals and community organizations. Fortunately, Newmarket-based charity YouthSpeak is leading the way, by empowering youth to share their personal stories in assemblies and workshops across York Region.

Una Wright, Founder and Executive Director of YouthSpeak, explains that her inspiration for launching the charitable organization came from her own personal experiences. Her family has struggled with mental illness for many years. On July 18th, 2004, her son Gavin died in a weather-related car accident on his 19th birthday. Gavin was one of the first YouthSpeak speakers, who joined the team after dealing with addiction and depression. Ten years later, her eldest son Kyle died by suicide at age 31, after struggling with bipolar disorder.

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