Participants take part in the Community Actions Workshop put on by Oceanside Health and Wellness Network at the Parksville Community and Convention Centre Feb. 22, 2018. — Photo submitted by OHWN

Parksville workshop explores food security, mental health

Oceanside Health and Wellness hosts second session focused on youth

Two priority issues of concern in Parksville Qualicum Beach — food security for school-age children and mental health supports for youth and young adults — drew more than 80 participants to a workshop in Parksville in February. 

Charting the Course Together for Health and Wellness in Oceanside: A Community Actions Workshop, drew more than 40 organizations, including university representatives, service providers, local businesses, RCMP, community service organizations, local schools, and retirees for the Community Actions Workshop.

The event, held at Parksville Community and Conference Centre, was the second of two community gatherings hosted by OHWN through an Island Health Community Wellness Grant. The first forum, held in November of 2017, brought together 50 community leaders for an introductory exploration of food security for school-age children and mental health supports for youth and young adults.

Last month’s follow-up workshop was meant to dig deeper into these issues and start making plans for collaborative action, OHWN stated in a written release.

Brenda Kent, former OHWN coordinator, opened the workshop with a call to action challenge to the participants. She urged the group to look at the evidence about what has made a difference in other communities, but also encouraged them to be innovative.

“New ideas that have traction are important to put on the table,” said Kent. “Best innovation comes from community – you know the issues first-hand, you know the players, and you can see the possibilities.”

Participants split into two groups – one to focus on mental health supports for youth and young adults and another to look at food security for school-aged children. There was significant interest in mental health, with 75 per cent of participants choosing that theme.

The group addressing mental health and wellness for youth and young adults heard from James McCarthy, Coordinator of Mental Health and Substance Use Services at Oceanside Health Centre, who reflected on the need for enhanced services and resources while highlighting some progress that has been made in mental health services for young people at Oceanside Health Centre. Christine Brisson, Client Support Worker and the Young Adult Program Coordinator at Forward House Community Society, spoke about the value of connection, belonging and sense of community to young adults living with mental health challenges. This is at the heart of mental wellness

OHWN will host two follow-up meetings to build on and move forward with the ideas for action generated at the workshop, including finding more partners and leaders to take collaborative community actions and make a positive impact on the health of the area’s young residents.

To get involved or to learn more, visit OHWN’s website at www.rdn.bc.ca/ohwn or contact Carissa Kazyss, OHWN interim coordinator, at info.ohwn@gmail.com or 250-228-0513.

— NEWS staff/OHWN submission

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