May 28th, 2024

Wood’s Homes stands up for mental health

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 7, 2024.


Carrie Dahl says people dealing with mental health challenges are some of the strongest people she knows.
They’re expected to live life with the same expectations of society while having a battle in their own brain, which “takes a lot of strength, especially in young people,” Dahl said Monday.
Dahl, Fund Development and Community Engagement Co-ordinator of Wood’s Homes Lethbridge operation, approached the Assets and Infrastructure standing policy committee of Lethbridge city council recently asking its support for a plan by the organization to have two sidewalks on 3 Ave. S. stencilled green in support of Mental Health Week.
On Saturday, after a day’s delay due to raindrops, City staff stencilled on the crosswalks at 3 Ave. and 3 St. S. “#mentalhealthmatters.” On Monday, Dahl and others including Lethbridge Police Service officers, stood on one of the crosswalks for a photo opp thanks to city council’s unanimous support of the project.
Wood’s Homes absorbed all the costs of the project which will give motorists, cyclists and pedestrians a reminder of the importance of mental health during the month of May.
The crosswalk painting was a first for the Calgary-based Wood’s Homes which operates in several Alberta communities including Calgary. Lethbridge, Fort McMurray, Canmore, Lac La Biche, Strathmore and Cold Lake.
Wood’s Homes is a mental health centre which provides treatment and support for children, young people, adults and families. It also operates an emergency youth shelter here and an “opportunity hub” which it describes as “a safe and welcoming space for young adults ages 16 to 24 who are interested in fostering their own personal growth and development through a variety of resources and service themes.”
Dahl came up with the crosswalk idea, she said, as a way to show people that mental health can’t be ignored.
Dahl said the average age of youth being helped by Wood’s Homes is now about 14, lower than what it has been. Wood’s Homes has even helped youth as young as 12.
Its shelter has been at capacity more in the past couple of months than it ever has, she said.
“Everything that we do and see comes from mental health, essentially, Dahl noted.
Shauna Cohen, the Lethbridge-based regional associate director of Wood’s Homes, said Monday that “it’s so important that folks in our community are aware of the challenges that come with mental health and we wanted to do a crosswalk so we could make a bold statement to those struggling with mental health to know that there’s hope, to know that we see you, to know that we’re here for you.”
One in five young people struggle with mental health challenges and of those five, only one gets the support and treatment they need, said Cohen.
Many reasons could exist for that, said Cohen, including stigma around mental health, a lack of support, lack of knowledge or understanding or a lack of resources.
This was the first time the organization has ever done a crosswalk, added Cohen.
“Carrie came up the idea. In previous years, we have lit up the city in different areas green for children’s Mental Health Day which is actually May 7 but this whole month is a month of awareness” and Wood’s Homes tries to create different initiatives here to promote mental health awareness as well as the services and resources available to help youth and their families,” Cohen said.
“We wanted to come up with something bold and in-your-face,” said Dahl, “something you can’t ignore because mental health usually does lives in the shadows. . .
“You can’t not see the crosswalk,” added Dahl.

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