Suicide and depression awareness program reaches 750,000 teenagers - The Partners for Life program plays a major role in reducing the youth suicide rate in Québec

MONTREAL, Feb. 7, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - During National Suicide Prevention Week, the Mental Illness Foundation recognized the exceptional performance of its Partners for Life program, which has thus far helped raise suicide and depression awareness amongst 750,000 Québec teenagers aged 14 to 18, at a press conference held at école secondaire Cavelier-De LaSalle in the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board.

Launched in 1998, Partners for Life is a wide-spanning, unique initiative whose success is due in part to its low distribution costs as well as its exceptional outreach. In fact, it is offered free of charge in French and English in over 690 high schools in Québec and reaches between 50,000 and 60,000 people annually. Partners for Life's mission is to inform teenagers of the signs and symptoms of depression, an illness that strikes between 5 and 10% of young people and which is strongly linked to drop-out rates and suicide. To this effect, the Réseau québécois de recherche sur le suicide recently published a scientific advice highlighting the importance of this program as well as its contribution to a greater than 50% reduction in youth suicide rates in the province over the past decade.

To help it maximize the use of its awareness-raising tools, Partners for Life received a $50,000 donation from TELUS Community Boards as well as a donation of services of equal value from the TAXI ad agency. The joint TELUS and TAXI donations led to the creation of a video clip developed by the Mental Illness Foundation, aimed at bringing teenagers to break their silence on mental health and to ask for support when they truly need it. "At TELUS, we have a great philosophy that guides all of our community initiatives: We give where we live, said François Côté, president of TELUS Québec, who has been involved for five years now with the Foundation and its fundraising activities, with the support of the company. By demystifying mental illness and bringing together young people for this cause, we want to encourage them to persevere and pursue their dreams. To break the silence, to speak and be heard are essential actions for young people and we are honored to have contributed to this important step in the fight against mental illness in Quebec."

During the press conference, Catherine Burrows, Director of Youth Programs at the Mental Illness Foundation, underscored the importance of using awareness-raising tools young people are familiar with: "We created a video that reflects the reality of teenagers and which integrates their favourite means of communicating, such as chatting and social networks. This allows us to be in a better position to convince them to act should they be faced with psychological distress."

The video has proved its mettle. Since its launch, the number of teens who have contacted an aid resource following a visit from the Partners for Life team jumped by 10%. "It's always very rewarding to know that our work has a real impact on people, particularly when it's a cause that is dear to us", says Christian Quenneville, General Director, TAXI Montréal.

The Foundation wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude to TELUS and TAXI for their contribution to this essential youth program.

About the Mental Illness Foundation 
Founded in 1980 by Dr. Yves Lamontagne, the Mental Illness Foundation's mission is to prevent mental illness in an effort to diminish the suffering of those who are affected and that of their loved ones, by mobilizing individuals and society. For more information on the Foundation and available resources, please visit the Foundation's website at the following address:  www.fondationdesmaladiesmentales.org.

Image with caption: "Maude Gauthier, student; François Côté, President, TELUS Québec; Julie Lavigne, principal, École secondaire Cavelier-De LaSalle; Jean-Luc Taschereau, President, Mental Illness Foundation; Christian Quenneville, General Director, TAXI Montréal; and Catherine Burrows, Director of Youth Programs, Mental Illness Foundation. (CNW Group/MENTAL ILLNESS FOUNDATION)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120207_C2176_PHOTO_EN_9783.jpg

Image with caption: "Maude Gauthier, a student at École secondaire Cavelier-De LaSalle, shared a touching testimonial about the impact of the Mental Illness Foundation's Partners for Life program and its ability to change the perceptions of young people towards depression. (CNW Group/MENTAL ILLNESS FOUNDATION)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120207_C2176_PHOTO_EN_9784.jpg

SOURCE MENTAL ILLNESS FOUNDATION

For further information:

Information and interviews: 
Sophie Barbeau

Mental Illness Foundation
514-529-5354 ext. 229

sbarbeau@fondationdesmaladiesmentales.org

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