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NEW PATH INVITES EVERYONE IN SIMCOE COUNTY TO SHINE GREEN FOR CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH

Simcoe County – New Path Youth & Family Services (New Path) is celebrating Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW) from May 3-9 by asking everyone in Simcoe County to Shine Green. The colour green is used to celebrate child and youth mental health as it represents hope, growth, and transformation. The child and youth mental health provider and Lead Agency for children’s mental health in Simcoe County is inviting everyone to wear green and to download and share tips for mental wellness through a free, downloadable bubbles for mental health comic page available from www.newpath.ca/cmhw2021. Families are invited to hang the finished bubbles in their windows and share the pictures on social media using the hashtag #CMHW2021 #shinegreen #kidscantwait and tagging New Path @NewPathYFS. 
“The bubbles for mental health comic pages are really our way of continuing the conversation about the importance of mental wellness and talking about mental health,” says Elizabeth McKeeman, CEO of New Path Youth & Family Services. “This has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone and although there is light at the end of the tunnel, sharing tips and building community virtually continues to be exceptionally important.”  

Approximately 1 in 5 children and youth across Canada has a diagnosable mental health disorder. If left untreated, these can lead to serious long-term consequences for children or youth and their families. By raising awareness through CMHW, we can decrease the stigma and increase awareness of the importance of getting early mental health supports.

“Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Simcoe County counts on the leadership and partnerships with New Path to put children, youth and families first as we know that more than half of all mental health conditions show up before the age of 18,’ says Dr. Valerie Grdisa, CEO of CMHA Simcoe County. “We work together on many initiatives throughout the region knowing that the more we collaborate and integrate our efforts, the more likely our children and youth will face better futures.” 

About New Path Youth & Family Services

New Path Youth & Family Services of Simcoe County is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization. We are an accredited children’s mental health agency providing a range of innovative and timely services for children, youth and their families. We are the Lead Agency for children’s mental health in Simcoe with the goal of enhancing the experience and outcomes of children, youth and their families seeking assistance with mental health and wellness.
New Path is currently offering call-in, in-person and virtual mental health services for children, youth and their families in Simcoe County. A range of free mental health services are offered by professional counsellors. Families can access a range of free counselling and therapy services by calling or emailing New Path at 705-725-7656, info@newpath.ca. To learn more about New Path Youth and Family Services, to donate, or get involved please visit www.newpath.ca, follow us on social media Facebook: New Path Youth & Family Services Twitter: @NewPathYFS or sign up for our quarterly TrailSigns Newsletter

10 Tips for Preserving Eye Health

The following tips can help you take care of your eyes and preserve clear vision:

1. Get regular eye exams. Starting at age 40, get annual eye exams and have your eye doctor look for signs of glaucoma and retinal damage, even if you’re a healthy adult with no vision problems. People who have certain medical conditions that increase the risk of eye disorders, such as diabetes, or those who have vision problems should see an eye care professional earlier than 40. Depending on your risk factors and the initial findings of your exam, ask your eye doctor to recommend the appropriate screening intervals that will help maintain clear vision.

2. Wear shades. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage aging eyes just as they can damage skin. UV rays can cause cataracts and possibly accelerate macular degeneration. The best way to protect eyes from the sun is with sunglasses that have UV filters. Lenses of any color will do as long as they have UV filters.

3. Don a hat. Wear a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outdoors for any length of time. Sunglasses help, but a hat will give you extra protection. The eyelid is a common spot for a melanoma to develop.

4. Enjoy the fruits of the garden. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. While definitive evidence is lacking, some studies suggest that sufficient intake of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may help lower the risk of eye conditions that can accompany aging, such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in fruits and vegetables with yellow and orange pigments, such as corn, squash, carrots, and citrus fruits. They are also found in dark green leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach.

5. Take a multivitamin. Vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, and E and the mineral zinc have been shown to promote eye health. When choosing a multivitamin, be sure to get one that meets all the requirements for your age and stage of life.

6. Stop smoking. Smoking can promote eye diseases because it reduces blood flow to the eyes and can increase the amount of toxic substances (like tar and nicotine) your eyes absorb. If you’re at risk for diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration, exposure to toxic substances in cigarettes can elevate that risk.

7. Shed some light. While you won’t permanently hurt your eyes by reading or working in a dimly lit area, you can cause temporary eyestrain, which can lead to headaches and fatigue. Protect your eyes by making sure your workspace is brightly lit.

8. Take a break. Another way to prevent eyestrain is to take frequent breaks from the computer screen or reading materials. About every 10 minutes, look up or away for 10 seconds, so your eyes get a rest. If you’re watching television, give your eyes a break and look away every half hour or so.

9. Get sufficient sleep. Being overtired can increase eyestrain. If you get enough sleep, your eyes will be refreshed along with the rest of your body.

10. Don’t ignore warning signs. Eye doctors can treat many potentially serious vision problems if they are caught early enough. See your doctor if you experience blurred or double vision, if your vision appears cloudy, or if you have eye pain or are bothered by the glare of lights. All are signs that you could be developing vision problems that can be treated by your eye doctor.

You can’t stop time, but you can take care of your eyes so that they remain healthy as you age. Having clear vision is possible at any age.

Volunteers’ virtual visits brighten the days for RVH patients

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) might not be permitting visitors right now, but that didn’t stop Charlie from paying a recent visit to five patients on the Specialized Seniors Care unit. He didn’t slip by security and sneak into the health centre, he came in the same way many visitors do these days – virtually. And he did so with a ball in his mouth and his tail wagging. Charlie, a bouncy golden retriever, is a member of the St. John Ambulance Pet Therapy Program and he virtually visits patients at RVH. His owner, Darlene Caven, an RVH volunteer, proudly runs him through his routine in the safety of her backyard, sharing the canine’s antics and loving nature with the seniors via Zoom. The seniors watch Charlie on a big screen in the activity room on the unit, safely distanced from one another, yet closely connected by their common enjoyment of watching the dog.

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 18 – 24 and during this time RVH officially salutes its more than 600 volunteers, affectionately known as the ‘Blue Brigade.’ Despite the fact volunteers have not been in the health centre for over a year they have been supporting RVH by creating 4,000 masks for staff to use out in the community and making afghans for patients in the cancer centre. The RVH Auxiliary continues its fundraising efforts through its Community 50/50 draw, the proceeds of which support the Auxiliary’s $5 million pledge to the Moments Matter campaign.  “This past year has been a little different as our volunteers are not in the building and I think I speak for everyone at RVH when I say we miss them. Although not onsite, our volunteers continue to support and inspire us from the safety of their homes,” says Janice Skot, RVH president and CEO. “We know how difficult the visitor restrictions have been for our patients so our virtual volunteer and virtual pet therapy pilot projects on our Specialized Seniors Care unit, are certainly bringing a little bit of comfort to our patients who are able to participate in the programs.” Susan Goode is one of those patients. The senior had to give up her beloved cat, Sassy, and is currently in hospital, but she’s passing the time sharing cat stories with RVH volunteer Kate Cullen. The two meet virtually once a week and have found they are kindred spirits when it comes to felines. “I think this is a great idea,” says Goode, of her weekly virtual visits with Cullen. “When I came into hospital I was really upset about giving up my cat and just to have someone to talk to who likes cats and understands what I’m going through, is very comforting.” The volunteers in either the pet therapy or visiting pilot projects, are current members of the Blue Brigade who have adapted their volunteerism to the virtual format, and the RVH’s patients involved in the programs have taken to the new technology really well. “These types of virtual visits really help reduce the loneliness many of our patients are facing. It gives them a different focus and someone new to talk to,” says Kristy Boyes, Behavioural Support Worker/Recreation Therapist on the unit. “Given this technology is new to some of our patients, they have shown appreciation and are willing to adapt and participate in the programs with great interest.”  But volunteering is a two-way street, and Cullen, a York University student who has been a member of the Blue Brigade for three years, is happy to be able to continue her volunteer work. I really love to still be able to spend time with people in the hospital. It is so nice for me to have the opportunity to chat and share stories. It has been a long time of isolation for many of these patients during COVID, so I feel this is a very special opportunity for me,” says Cullen. “It does not replace in-person visits which I miss so much and can’t wait to get back to volunteer in-person at RVH.” RVH’s volunteers are not just donning blue vests, as the members of the Board of Directors and Foundation Board also invest countless hours as governors, as well as the members of RVH’s many Patient Family Advisory Councils.  “Our volunteers’ expertise, vision and passion for RVH is both inspiring and invaluable. We can’t wait to see our beloved volunteers back in the health centre when it is safe. They are an integral part of TEAM RVH and we appreciate the amazing work they do and salute and thank them during National Volunteer Appreciation week,” says Skot.

Don’t Fear Change

We all know of individuals who are in situations that seem quite dreadful, and yet they seem immobilized, unable to do anything to change things. What is it that makes people appear to be stuck, like the helpless insect who finds his way into the spider web? These people seem to struggle and struggle, but the struggle does not result in any progress. Whether it is a job, relationship or family situation, the pattern is the same. 

It is obvious that the situation is creating stress and unhappiness, and the person seems to feel helpless. They focus on the problem, going over it again and again, believing that the solution (or the problem) lies with someone else. Sometimes the boss, spouse, parents or children are a big problem, but they rarely perceive themselves that way, so often are unlikely to change. Assuming that the one who is suffering has tried many different approaches to solving the problems and it’s clearly not going to get better, why don’t they help themselves? 

Most often the reason can be traced back to guilt or fear. There may be a feeling of failure if one sees that they cannot make the job or the marriage work. There may be guilt knowing that if one leaves the job or marriage, someone will be hurt. There may be the fear that to tell the boss, spouse, or parents how we really feel may make them very angry, and so it seems safer to stay quiet. There may also be a deep fear of change. Fear of changing jobs, fear of being alone, fear of financial problems, and the fear of being judged are all powerful forces that block change.

Generally, the change that is really needed is within the individual, and the external problems are there as a stimulus to get that growth happening. When one feels abused or undervalued, they can either collapse within themselves, going into depression, despair and hopelessness, or they can become aware that they deserve better. Ultimately, the only one who will ensure that they get what they deserve, is the self.

The real struggle then, is within the self, and it is to decide whether it is more painful to remain stuck, or to do whatever needs to be done to upgrade our situation. Often this is a difficult decision, and many remain on the brink for a long time. Sometimes it’s helpful to remember that you have but one lifetime as the person you are, and to ask yourself if you really want to spend the rest of it the way you are doing now. If not, it might be scarier to do nothing, than it would be to take the steps required for change.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychologist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books, CDs or MP3s, visit www.gwen.ca. Follow Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.