DEAR DONOR:

Not Alone. Two simple words but they can be so powerful. To someone with mental illness, ‘not alone’ is like a beacon of light in a dark space. It means someone hears you, sees you, and cares. The 2020 Starlite Campaign – Not Alone, is one of the East Kootenay Foundation for Health’s most important projects to date and the most vulnerable in our society need your help!

Rebecca White, Team Lead of Mental Health at Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child & Family Services (KKCFSS), states, “During the last few years we have witnessed a larger number of young people reaching out for services. These young people have more complicated issues that are compounded by a profound lack of connection to their community. Also alarming, is the increase in suicidal tendencies, as young people are increasingly seeing suicide as the only way to solve problems. Our intakes at Child Mental Health for KKCFSS had an increase of 30% for young people ages 12-24 in 2018-2019 with 50% of them being a priority 1, which means they are a serious concern for suicide or other mental health concerns.

“My daughter suffered with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, depression and anorexia. It started the month she turned 11 years old. On March 11th, 2013 at the age of 18, she took her life. There has to be better access to good treatment, education and support here in the Kootenay’s.” Michelle Evans, a mother from Cranbrook, spent years seeking the help that her daughter Kassy so desperately needed and she ended up travelling all over BC, Alberta and the USA visiting numerous health care facilities and seeing countless doctors. Kassy was from a very supportive home and an honour roll student.

This is one of many tragic stories from families in the East Kootenay. The services are not readily accessible to youth experiencing mental health challenges. There are waiting lists of over 6 months long to get help, and 6 months can mean a lifetime.

The reality of youth mental illness is staggering.

  • 300,000 youth in BC – 1 in 5 – need mental health or substance use services
  • Of those, as few as 25% receive the care they need
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in Canada
  • 75% of mental illness begins before age 25
  • Youth mental illness is ranked as the 2nd highest Canadian hospital care expenditure

Fortunately, there is a solution coming to the East Kootenay. It is called Foundry. Foundry East Kootenay, led by KKCFSS, is a massive step forward in the way we address youth mental health in our community. Through early intervention and cooperation between clinical and social support programs, Foundry East Kootenay will become the central support resource to young people suffering with any degree of mental illness in our community. Together with the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Family & Child Services Society (KKCFSS), the East Kootenay Foundation for Health is raising $1.4 million to support the opening of Foundry East Kootenay.

Services such as primary care, counselling, substance use and peer support will be brought together with social services that include employment and education resources under one roof. For the youth there will be no waitlists. No having to repeat their story multiple times.

Everyone knows somebody who has been touched by mental illness or substance use in our youth. Mental health concerns and substance use can affect any person from any background. It does not discriminate. There is a crisis going on right here at home and it is about time that this is made a priority. Suicide and overdoses are stealing our children. Foundry will change that!
So, this Starlite season please give. Donate today and light a star in honour of our youth. Let’s make Foundry a reality and give our youth and their families a place to go so they are not alone!

With gratitude,

Brenna Baker
Executive Director
East Kootenay Foundation for Health

Colin Sinclair
Chief Administrative Officer
Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services