October 24th, 2020

Hat parents get much needed support on issues of mental health

By MO CRANKER on October 8, 2020.

Kevin Cameron speaks to Hat parents virtually about suicide and mental health Wednesday night during a visit to the Hat.--SCREENSHOT FROM LIVESTREAM

mcranker@medicinehatnews.com@mocranker

Medicine Hat parents got to hear from trauma expert Kevin Cameron during a virtual meeting Wednesday night.

The event was hosted by the Southeast Alberta Violence Threat Risk Assessment Protocol Committee in collaboration with Medicine Hat Public School Division, Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education, Prairie Rose Regional School Division, CAPE School, Ecole Les Cypres, Medicine Hat Police, RCMP, Medicine Hat College and several community partners as a result of the mental health and suicide crisis in the city.

Cameron is the executive director for North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response, and says the information session is an important step.

“This is a parent and caregiver information session we’re holding because of all of the suicides and mental health issues in Medicine Hat,” said Cameron. “A lot of times things happen with adults and we don’t think it’s impacting kids, and sometimes we deal with just the kids at schools and don’t involve the parents in any conversations.

“Right now we want to hear from parents on what they’re hearing from their kids. How high is the stress level?

“This is step one to bring adults together to determine what needs to happen a few weeks from now as we hear back from adults.”

Cameron says tonight’s meeting is just one part of a larger picture of things that need to happen to support mental health in the Hat.

The evening consisted of roughly 30 minutes of Cameron speaking virtually to parents who registered for the talk, then he answered questions that were submitted earlier in the week by adults.

“There has been a really steady flow of genuine, thought-out questions from parents,” he said. “I’ll be talking about high-profile loss and traumatic circumstances like we’re seeing in the Medicine Hat area.

“Last count I heard was about 100 or so questions, which shows that the parents have needed something like this.”

Cameron says speaking with kids is vital.

“We need to create opportunities for meaningful conversations with kids,” he said. “I’m also going to talk about the trauma response continuum. If things are going well in a parent’s life, they may not think to check in on their kids while things are going well. It’s important to monitor their behaviour and again – talk to them.”

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