George Rappos imagines a future where youth don’t have to wait for mental health services.
“I have two teenagers and I could see both suffer as the pandemic lockdown took its toll and the anxiety and depression set in. Sadly, we had a teen in our community who died by suicide during the pandemic, and it really hit home that youth mental health is something we need to take much more seriously,” he said. “I really want to do more.”
So George began his collaboration with CMHA, and last year launched the inaugural Insuring Our Future campaign, which helped bring in more than $56,000 for youth programs.
This year, with George is once again asking his insurance industry colleagues to step up.
“No one is immune. It’s a normal part of life. Mental health is something that affects my family too. I’m fortunate enough that I have benefits and can pay for assessments privately, but there are lots of people who don’t have that. And that is where CMHA comes in — people can access life-saving services at no cost.”
Suicide is the leading health-related cause of death in 15-to-24-year-old Canadians. Research also shows that 70 per cent of mental illness have their onset in childhood or youth and can be addressed with early assessment. The Insuring Our Future campaign launches during Mental Illness Awareness Week to emphasize the importance of treating mental illness during these crucial formative years.
George adds, “An 8-year-old child should be able to go to psychologist and get an assessment and not have to wait for years – and not have to pay. These are our children. They are our future. It catches up to adults when they get into their twenties and thirties – so it’s very important we get help for kids early on.”
At all CMHA’s branches across the province, from Sarnia to Sioux Lookout and beyond, young people can receive early intervention services – including those crucial assessments that George is talking about – for free, without waiting.
That’s why George is partnering with CMHA Ontario – it is already providing the barrier-free services he envisions for a healthier future.
“I’m glad the conversation has started taking off and more people are talking about mental health: now we need more resources. This is where I think I can play a small part, in making sure organizations like CMHA are well funded. I’d like to see mental health care covered through our provincial health care system, but in the meantime, we need to urgently act, and I hope others in the insurance industry will help us help CMHA to continue the excellent work it is doing for young people in the province right now,” he says. “Youth are our future.”
George’s final wish?
“Please donate. ”