Preventing depression and suicide through education
61st Annual Mental Health Week
MONTREAL, May 9, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - In Québec, between 5% and 10% of youngsters will suffer from depression at some point during their adolescence. This mental illness is also the principal reason behind drop-outs and is one of the main risk factors linked to suicide. How can we help the teenagers who will one day suffer from depression? By teaching them to identify the signs and symptoms, to break their isolation and to direct troubled teens to the appropriate resources with the Mental Illness Foundation's Partners For Life program.
50% of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. The sooner depression is diagnosed during adolescence, the sooner a young person can receive the right treatment and thus, avoid relapse in the future. It is therefore important to pay attention to warning signs, which may be very different from one person to the next. For example, adults express more apathy and sadness, whereas teens are more irritable and have mood swings. Other signs such as eating disorders, exhaustion or social withdrawal may be linked to depression.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that 70% of depressed teens are not diagnosed as such and, therefore, do not get treatment. "Left to face these difficulties alone, many of these young people will not get the help they need, either due to a lack of awareness or because they're afraid they'll be judged, stigmatized or even rejected," explains Dr. Martin Tremblay, Psychiatrist and President of the Mental Illness Foundation's Board of directors. "These young people suffer in silence. This can lead to serious problems in the future: behavioural problems, isolation, dropping out, violence, substance abuse and in the worse case, suicide. "
In light of this alarming reality, the Mental Illness Foundation created Partners For Life over 13 years ago. It is an awareness-raising program that reaches over 60,000 teens, parents and teachers every year, and gives them information on depression, its signs and symptoms as well as available resources. "In school, teens regroup and spend a lot of time with each other, making them most likely to notice a change in a friend's behaviour," explains Mrs. Catherine Burrows, Director of youth programs for the Mental Illness Foundation. "The mission of Partners For Life is to teach them to respond effectively to these changes, either by guiding their friends, or themselves, to a resource that can help."
Since Partners for Life's creation, the program's animators have visited over 690 schools in Québec, informed over 770,000 people and identified 15,000 teens who were subsequently treated for depression. Furthermore, the Réseau québécois de recherche sur le suicide (RQRS) recently published a scientific article highlighting the importance of the Partners for Life program as well as its contribution to the 50% decrease in youth suicide rates in Québec over the past decade. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has also recognized Partners for Life as a suicide prevention through education program and includes it in its Mental Health Strategy for Canada, which shapes policies and practices from coast to coast.
About the Mental Illness Foundation Founded in 1980 by Dr. Yves Lamontagne, the Mental Illness Foundation's
mission is to prevent mental illness in order to reduce the suffering
of afflicted people and their loved ones by mobilizing individuals and
society as a whole. For more information on the Foundation, mental
illness and available resources, please visit the Foundation's website
The Mental Illness Foundation is pleased to offer the media interview opportunities with their scientific spokespersons:
- Dr. Martin Tremblay, Co-director of the Expertise NeuroSciences clinic and an intake psychiatrist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM). He is currently Chairman of the Mental Illness Foundation's Board of Directors.
- Dr. Stéphane Kunicki, Psychiatrist and Co-founder of the Montreal ADHD Clinic. He is well known for his expertise in adult ADHD, depression, anxiety, OCD, phobias, post-traumatic stress and personality disorder.
- Dr. Édith Labonté, Psychiatrist at Hôpital Enfant-Jésus of the Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Québec. She is also a professor and internship supervisor in the department of psychiatry at Université de Laval, where she teaches courses on suicide, violence, psychiatric emergencies and crisis intervention.
- Dr. Mylène Bédard, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine, Université de Sherbrooke. She is very active within the Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec (AMPQ) where she sits on various committees (forensic psychiatry, communications, staffing). Her field of expertise is depression.
- Dr. Karine Igartua, Director of Emergency Psychiatric Services at the McGill University Health Centre, in addition to being a psychiatrist at the Montreal General Hospital and Co-director of the McGill University Sexual Identity Centre (MUSIC).
- Dr. Frédéric Benoit, Child psychiatrist at Hôpital Charles LeMoyne and Clinical Professor at Université de Sherbrooke. His specialties include mental disorders during adolescence, psychiatric emergencies, severe mental illness, personality disorders, severe behaviour disorders and the assessment of dangerousness and parenting skills.
Communication Advisor, Mental Illness Foundation
514 529-5354, ext. 229
Cell: 514 652-3467