While the Central and Northern Vancouver Island United Way helps people of all ages, youth mental health issues will be one focus in its 2014 fundraising campaign.
Fundraising kicked off Thursday with a target to raise $710,000 in the Nanaimo area by December of this year.
According to Signy Madden, executive director, the non-profit is concerned about issues such as teenage suicide and teens inflicting physical harm upon themselves.
“One of the things we’re hearing from the schools and the mental health workers is that teens who are either suffering from depression or stress at school, they actually cut themselves,” said Madden. “They cut their arms and that’s something that we’re seeing, not just vulnerable kids but middle-class kids as well.”
She said the emphasis on social media has increased stress on kids and the United Way is counteracting that with investments in anti-bullying campaigns, suicide prevention programs.
The United Way partners with other groups such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers and Big Sisters and getting youth out with adult mentors and peers is important.
“A lot of kids just feel isolated or if they’re not doing well with their families, they need to connect with someone outside the family,” Madden said.
For more information, please go to www.uwcnvi.ca.