Students, Teachers Learn about Mental Health at day-long Symposium

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Friday November 26, 2010

Toronto – More than 200 high school students and teachers with the Toronto Catholic District School Board will gather today at a special Mental Health Symposium to learn more about depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and psychosis among teenagers, and to kick off the Stop The Stigma program.

“Today is a fantastic opportunity for teachers and students alike to spend time learning about and discussing mental health as it relates to young people,” said Dianne Banasco, Student Success Lead Teacher, Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).

“As a school board, we know that students’ mental wellbeing is as important as their physical wellbeing. We’re committed to addressing both,” said Lisa McGuckin, Guidance Resource Teacher, TCDSB.

Stop The Stigma is a partnership between the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and the Toronto Catholic District School Board created to provide early intervention for mood disorders and psychosis, signs and symptoms of which typically begin at ages 14 or 15. Stop The Stigma includes today’s Mental Health Symposium, as well as a special Stop The Stigma week at 10 Toronto high schools in May 2011.

“Early intervention and treatment is key to recovery from depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and psychosis,” said Catherine Bancroft, Manager of Family and Youth Programs at the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. “We’re so pleased to be working with the Toronto Catholic District School Board to educate students and teachers, stop the stigma around mental illness, and to address mental health at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Today’s keynote speakers include Asante Haughton and Erin Hodgson, two young people who will share their personal experiences living with a mood disorder. Afternoon workshops will feature presentations on mood disorders and young people, stopping the stigma, and the myths of mental illness.

“This is a great opportunity to spread the word about mental illness, its seriousness, and to address the stigma involved.I hope today can be a step in taking the blanket off of a pervasive problem that many of us are too ashamed or too afraid to talk about,” said Asante Haughton, one of the keynote speakers.

The Mood Disorders Association will also launch a design competition for students to create a logo for the Stop The Stigma program to be used on all materials. The competition is open to all high school students of the TCDSB. Deadline for submissions is December 17, 2010.

The Mental Health Symposium begins at 9:00 a.m. today with an address by Dr. Bruce Ferguson, Director of the Community Health Systems Resource Group at the Hospital for Sick Children, and runs until 3:00 p.m. It’s taking place at the Japanese Cultural Centre at 6 Garamond Court (Don Mills/Eglinton).


To RSVP, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, (416) 486-8046 ext. 232; (647) 771-5815 (cell)

Lisa McGuckin, Vice Principal Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton (416) 393-5545

Dianne Banasco, Student Success Resource Teacher (416) 222-8282