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Mental Health campaign aims to educate community and eliminate stigma

October 9, 2020   ·   0 Comments

The Nottawasaga OPP is running a mental health campaign, releasing information daily for those who are struggling or know someone who may need help.

The public awareness campaign kicked off September 28 and runs until October 9, with the purpose of better informing community members on resources available to them.

“The goal here with this is to increase awareness, reduce stigma and, of course, barriers that prevent people from accessing services. Sometimes it’s just a matter of not knowing what resources are available,” said Constable Katy Viccary of the Nottawasaga OPP, who is spearheading the campaign.

She told The Times she took this project on because of her struggle with depression and losing her father to suicide three years ago. Viccary said she felt the need to raise awareness, particularly during the pandemic when more people are experiencing a decline in mental health.

There are three crises impacting Canadians right now which are COVID-19, mental health and opioid abuse, so in a time of distress for many, it’s important they know where to turn, Viccary noted.

The Nottawasaga OPP recently launched its Mental Health Support Team and is working to inform people that they recently employed a crisis worker to assist them with emergencies.

“They can go out to live crisis calls as well as do follow-up with people [who] are needing some resources,” Viccary noted.

York Support Services Network (YSSN) has been working with the Nottawasaga OPP since 2017 to support residents when they’re experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis and can be accessed by calling 1-844-660-6602. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Outside of these hours, those in crisis can call 1-855-310-COPE (2673).

One of the team’s primary objectives is to bring crisis support to the person in crisis rather than having to transport them to access help.

The YSSN crisis worker is able to speak with the person in crisis to better understand the reasons behind it, determine risks of harm, provide emotional support, discuss coping strategies and develop plans or make referrals to community resources.

During this time an OPP constable is on hand as well to ensure safety.

All of the Nottawasaga OPP frontline officers are trained to respond to mental health calls and complete an on-site assessment to ensure the person in crisis gets the most appropriate care for the situation they’re experiencing.

During last week’s portion of the mental health campaign, a press release was circulated breaking down the Mental Health Act so people can better understand what powers police have and what options they have as caregivers of someone who is struggling with mental health.

Other aspects of the online campaign were more focused on eliminating stigma associated with mental illness.

“We just want to get it out there that when it comes to mental health, every community, individual and organization is affected and we want to recognize that there’s stigma associated with mental illness,” said Viccary.

“We understand that this is certainly a very trying time for many and that there’s lots of resources available and lots of our community partners have adopted virtual ways of providing their service… which I think is a good starting point.”

As well, the Nottawasaga OPP has launched a website called, which provides the public with support and resources they can access within the region, online or by phone.

Whether it’s counselling, housing services, programs for youth or emergency services, the website covers just about any social service a person could need.

“I am proud of Nottawasaga OPP’s collaborative partnerships with local agencies for the betterment of our community. I thank all those who are contributing to the success of the situation table – Collaborate Nottawasaga. By working together, we are making significant strides in supporting those in need,” said Sgt. Kristen Buligan, Community Mobilization and Engagement Unit, Nottawasaga OPP.

Support services for youth that are specific to Alliston include Youth Haven (46 Wellington Street West), which is Simcoe County’s only emergency shelter for youth between 16 and 24 who are experiencing homelessness.

New Path Youth and Family Services, which is housed in the same location, offers free counselling for youth up to 18 years of age and their families with no appointment needed.

The Door Youth Centre (123 Victoria St. W.) acts as a community and support hub for youth ages 13-19. Through their life skills programs and drop-in lunches, the organization looks to provide support to at-risk teens and their families.

If anyone’s looking to speak with the Mental Health Support Team or the mental health officer for the Nottawasaga OPP and learn more about what’s available in the community, they can call the detachment at 705-434-1939.

“We are thankful for all our community partners for their involvement and active participation in this public awareness campaign. We welcome the opportunity to work together in an effort to raise awareness about issues surrounding mental illness, and to provide our community with local resources available to them. Together, we can make a difference and break down barriers,” said Insp. Steve Ridout, Detachment Commander for the Nottawasaga OPP.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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