More than ever, mental health services are needed for youth, says an avid fundraiser for Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York Region and South Simcoe.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some young people are feeling anxious about the future and lonely in isolation, said Aurora resident Judy Brunton, one of the local agency's top fundraisers for MOBYSS (Mobile York South Simcoe), the only mobile mental health clinic for youth in the province.
“Right now, more than ever, youth are suffering and need the programs that CMHA are able to offer to them,” added Brunton.
Every year, with her two sons, Brunton takes part in the Mental Health in Motion bike event in June in Newmarket that is the association's premier fundraising event.
But because of measures in place to help halt the spread of COVID-19, this year's event has been cancelled, and Mental Health in Motion has become a virtual fundraiser as part of the MOBYSS in MOTION campaign.
So far, the community has raised just over $50,000 of the $75,000 goal, with Brunton being one of the top fundraisers so far with more than $4,580 pledged.
"It's my passion, it's what I have to do, it's what I need to do," explained Brunton about her fundraising efforts.
She is inspired to support the cause by her sister, who struggled with mental health issues when she was young, and relied on supports in place to help her.
In the past six years, Brunton has raised $90,000 for the association through various fundraising campaigns, including an annual sale, and is hoping to raise at least $15,000 more to surpass her goal of $100,000.
"It raises the profile of the organization and lets people know that we're here," said CMHA director of philanthropy Catherine Matzig.
The MOBYSS bus travels around the community helping youth aged 12 to 25 with their physical or mental health concerns. The bus is staffed with a nurse practitioner, specialized youth mental health worker, and peer support specialist.
It costs about $1,300 a day to run when it is in motion and with the cancellation of the bike ride, Brunton is encouraging others to donate to the online fundraiser.
Matzig said while MOBYSS service has been temporarily cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, staff have been working remotely, facilitating appointments with youth through phone, text and video conference. Since the start of the pandemic, she noted more than 250 sessions have been booked.
And while the bus usually comes to the youth, Matzig said she is happy that youth are reaching out and asking for help.
Youth can call or text at 289-879-2376 for support.
Telephone-based counselling is available for all residents at 1-866-345-0183, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
To make a donation to MOBYSS in MOTION, click here.
To make a donation to Brunton's personal MOBYSS in MOTION fundraising page, click here.