As part of Mental Health Week (May 5-9) observations, students at Meaford's Georgian Bay Secondary School (GBSS) attended an assembly on May 5, focused on an online therapy service established in the memory of Wes Cameron, a Walkerton youth who ended his own life in 2011 at the age of 16.
Wes For Youth Online (WFYO) is a confidential online therapy service for teens that is intended to allow access to free professional counselling for youth through the services and technology they are most comfortable with.
“Today’s teen communicates and connects in a very different way than their parents and that is through social media and networking. They are the first generation to be raised with texting, messaging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. It keeps them ‘in the loop’ 24/7 and they rely on it for expression, integration, acceptance and approval. Social media is their comfort zone and where many go first, rightly or wrongly, for all their answers,” says the WFYO website. “www.wesforyouthonline.ca wants to be there for them: a place to go to express themselves and get support from professional, non-judgmental counsellors; it will be a one-on-one connection for them, away from any office, or the eyes and opinions of others. Online counselling will give teens an opportunity to share their feelings and concerns, deal with their life issues privately in a manner familiar and comfortable to them, while ensuring a safety net in the process.”
The website was launched in June of last year. Since the launch 95 local youth have registered for the service.
After the assembly, students participated in a walk around the school track in support of the “Walk with Wes…For Youth Mental Health” initiative which began last year.
The walk is intended to create and promote awareness of the importance of youth mental health and well-being. Participating students were asked to make a donation, with the funds raised directed to the WFYO to help support the costs associated with the online counselling service.
“We will continue throughout Mental Health Week to educate our students of the facts and resources available in the community,” GBSS teacher John Flynn told The Independent.