By Laura MacDuff, The Post, Hanover
Friday, September 6, 2013 3:22:51 EDT PM
WALKERTON – It was a bittersweet day for the Cameron family, of Walkerton, as they held a ceremony to officially embark on the Wes For Youth office and services provided by the office.
“It’s one of those bittersweet days,” said Yolanda Camera, mother of Wes Cameron who passed away from suicide in September of 2011. “I know how much this can help other people, but we have to think about the fact that Wes isn’t here and that’s hard.”
Wes was only 16 years old. He was a student at Sacred Heart High School.
In an effort to help others, she created, along with staff, supporters and councillors, created Wes For Youth. This is an initiative and a resource for people to use that can guide and counsel people who are struggling with their own mental health, a loved one’s, or someone that they know.
“The community has been really supportive,” she said. She gave example of a recent retirement party held where instead of gifts, the honouree asked for donations to the Wes For Youth organization.
“People see a need for this and they appreciate that we’re kind of out there talking about youth mental health and about suicide,” she said. “Nobody wants to talk about that, and I don’t want to talk about it either, but I’m in a position where I can say what it feels like to go through losing a loved one. How else are people going to know?”
So far, there are 20 kids registered for the online counselling.
“That’s twenty kids in just three months,” she said.
Future plans are to expand the location to include an area where there can be support group meetings, seminars and workshops.
“There’s also an opportunity where, if kids want, they can meet a counsellor face-to-face,” she said. “There is a private office.”
She hopes the office and the website will give people that answer to the question of what to do and how to do it. She hopes this serves as a resource that breaks the stigma of mental illness, and gets people realizing that help is there and it’s ok to ask for it.
The office is located at 427 Durham Street East, downtown Walkerton. For online counseling or for more information, visit http://www.wesforyouth.ca.