Emma was a beautiful 14 year old girl who struggled with anxiety, depression and her sexual orientation in silence. She always portrayed a huge smile and a goofy attitude, went out of her way to help everyone around her and loved taking care of others.
On August 28th, 2018 Emma’s struggles became too heavy for her to carry, and she died by suicide. Before her death, Emma was knitting toques for homeless and less privileged kids and adults. Members of Emma’s family have continued to make these toques in honour of Emma and her kind spirit. The world was a better place with her in it and she will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate to know her. Donate now.
Tragically, Emma's story is one of many. 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder, with Canada’s youth suicide rate being the third highest in the industrialized world. In Canada, only 1 out of every 5 children who need mental health services receives them, yet help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected.
WHAT IS THE RISE PROGRAM?
Rainbows in Support of Emma is a fundraising initiative to honour Emma's memory by spreading much needed mental health awareness and support to youth. 100% of the proceeds from the toques sold through Rainbows in Support of Emma will be donated directly to the RISE program at CMHA Saskatoon.
The RISE program is in its 4th year, providing critical mental health information and training for grade 9 and 12 students.
We know that teachers and school counsellors are already doing so much to support these students. Despite not having any funding for RISE in the past, CMHA Saskatoon recognizes that we have an important role to play providing community based, youth mental health education. We want to continue to provide RISE and expand it to other high schools.
RISE provides information in a dynamic, interactive way that energizes and engages students so they can learn how to look after themselves, have the tools they need to lead mentally healthy lives and support their peers. At CMHA we work with adult clients daily, who need support navigating and accessing mental health services, often at a time of crisis. By working in the schools, we have an opportunity to be proactive, as we work with youth to educate them on mental illness and wellbeing, giving them a better chance of reducing more severe mental health problems in the future.
RISE is an evidence-based program built around developing positive attitudes towards mental health, building self-esteem and confidence, reaching out for help and increased resilience.
Each session focuses on a different mental illness/mental health topics such as coping strategies, myths, self-care, healthy relationships, stigma, eating disorders, and self-harm. The RISE program also addresses the topic of suicide head on, and encourages students to have open conversations in a safe and supported space. By developing trust with students, educators and counsellors, we have also been called in to support students in crises.
While RISE has reached over 200 students at one Saskatoon high school, the lifelong impact to those students, their families, peers, and potential employers is immense. Without funding to maintain the program and expand to other high schools we cannot sustain the program. Currently we carve out staff time to develop, evaluate and deliver RISE while the pressures of unmet mental health needs rise for youth.
Students have reported that “the information presented to me was helpful”. Other responses include, "They told us the truth and didn't candy coat anything; straight to the point.", "It brought out the reality of mental health issues", “I liked having such an open platform to talk about mental health”, and “It really explored issues that are not often talked about, for example stigma against mental illness.”
Our children are vulnerable and they need help. One life lost is one too many. Let's come together to support and raise awareness for youth who are struggling with mental health issues, one toque at a time! Please purchase/donate now.