Monday, November 22, 2010

Keeping our Youth and Our Future Healthy

Building Resilience to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues
For Immediate Release – (Waterloo)
The Waterloo Wellington community is working diligently to ensure that young people who are struggling with addiction and mental health issues are getting the help they need. But treatment is only one part of the equation. When it comes to addiction and mental health issues and youth, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

The Education and Training Working Group of the Waterloo Wellington
Addiction and Mental Health Network
is turning the focus to prevention by bringing Dr. David Wolfe, a psychologist and author specializing in issues affecting children and youth at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Centre for Prevention Science, to Waterloo on November 26th to speak about youth risk and resiliency.

The event being held at Luther Village is at capacity, with over 170 community members registering to attend including City of Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran and Kitchener - Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer.

Approximately 26% of Ontario students in grades 7 through 12 used cannabis in the past year, peaking at 46% in grade 12. A quarter of grade 12 students report being drunk or high at school within the past year. These statistics from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (2009, CAMH) are just the tip of the iceberg.

Our young people are also experiencing emotional and mental health issues at disturbing rates. More than 30% of students in grades 7 to 12 reported elevated psychological distress. About 10% of students reported they had seriously considered suicide in the past year.

Being resilient is no guarantee that a person will not experience challenges. Resilience means having the ability to face difficulties and move forward from them. Resilient youth tend to be empathetic and adaptable with good communication and problem solving skills. They tend to have future goals and be hopeful about what they can achieve. Young people’s resilience is determined by a number of things including individual characteristics, the characteristics of their families, and the physical and social environments where they live.

Building resilience in our young people is not easy but we can teach them skills that will help them cope with problems they may encounter. By developing these skills and creating supportive relationships, young people are more likely to be protected from life’s challenges, including substance use and mental health problems.

Dr. Wolfe’s presentation will address coping and resilience, review best practices for development of effective substance use and mental health prevention programs, and provide examples of community and school based initiatives that help youth build healthy relationships.

The Education and Training Working Group intends for this event to be a starting point to increase collaboration, coordination, and impact of youth substance use and mental health prevention in Waterloo Wellington.

For more information, please contact Paul Radkowski,


The Addiction and Mental Health Network is made up of many people with lived experience, families, agencies and committees within Waterloo Wellington who are committed to working together to develop a seamless and integrated system of mental health and addiction services. The Network works in partnership with the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network to ensure that the Mental Health and Addiction priorities identified in the Integrated Health Services Plan are achieved. For more details about the vision and objectives of the Network, please

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If in doubt.... Breathe!‏

When we get stressed, we often breathe in a panicked way. Panicked thoughts create panicked breath creating more thoughts of… panic. When we feel our breathing is out of control, we really feel out of control! We all struggle with control at times. We all feel panicked at times. We can slow our thoughts down and it starts with our breath.

One can survive without food for a number of weeks. One can survive without water for a number of days. We cannot survive without breath for more than a few minutes. People who are masters of meditation are masters of their breath and therefore every corresponding system within the body/mind. If in doubt, bring your awareness to your breath.

If you find you are in 5th gear at 10,000 RPMs with panicked thoughts and panicked breathing, you do have power! You do have control to breath deeply and slowly and “shift” yourself down to a more relaxed place. If you are a loved one of someone with an addiction, breath deeply before (during and after) any struggle/confrontation you may have with someone who is addicted. It will help you to be in a better, more relaxed place and to make better choices.

Also, drink lots of water throughout the day as it will help lymphatic drainage (ie detox you) and will help prevent your mind/body from shutting down and entering a stress/thirst/fight or flight response. By the time you “feel” thirsty, you are already de-hydrated! Visualize yourself breathing in and drinking the purest air and water as fresh as the purest mountain air and stream.

Constantly check in with yourself. What is your body telling you? What are your thoughts saying to you? Despite what is going on around you or even within you, be aware of your power, the power of your living breath. Recovery is a lot like life, its one breath at a time.

Best health and warmest regards, Paul Radkowski