Parenting has often been compared to walking through a minefield. Each step filled with stress and gratitude, where roadblocks and unexpected detours are common, and missteps are feared. Parenting a child who is experiencing difficulties with their mental health? Well, you might as well add a blindfold to that minefield waltz. Bearing witness and responsibility for a child who is struggling and then attempting to navigate the relentless appointments, assessments, follow-ups, school meetings and interventions, disruptions to home and work life, all while experiencing your own emotion and concern for that child can be overwhelming at the best of times. It’s not unusual for parents and caregivers to feel isolated and frustrated while experiencing these difficult times, and then to have a deep desire to make things better for the families who will follow them.
It was for this reason that the KFL&A Child and Youth Mental Health Family Advisory Committee was developed. Over 35 agencies with a stake in child and youth mental health within Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington meet quarterly to develop and guide a community Roadmap to Wellness. In May 2019, they collectively acknowledged the need for a parent/caregiver voice at the table, ensuring the needs of families are acknowledged and prioritized through their involvement with partner agencies and organizations.
“Navigating your children’s mental health can be a complicated and difficult landscape,” says Christina, a member of the Family Advisory Committee (FAC). “What I appreciate knowing is that there is a community of families advising and advocating for a better structure of care.”
The KFL&A Family Advisory Committee meets monthly to discuss and provide feedback to local child and youth mental health service providers, as well as to develop practical tools to assist parents in accessing and navigating the children’s mental health landscape. Members of this group come from diverse backgrounds, and the group is committed to ensuring their collective voice is reflective and inclusive of the many faces of children’s mental health in our region.
The FAC is currently recruiting new members to join their committed group of family advocates. If you are a parent who would like to help facilitate change in the mental health system for local children and youth, you’re the kind of person we are looking for.
To learn more about how you can get involved, check out https://maltbycentre.ca/news/kfla-child-and-youth-mental-health-family-advisory-committee-call-for-members/
This article was written by members of the KFL&A Child and Youth Mental Health Family Advisory Committee, and is published in partnership with Kingstonist.