The earlier a person receives treatment for mental illness, the better their chances for recovery – this is a fact that we at The Royal know well. As an organization specializing in mental health care and research, we know the importance of addressing mental health issues early in life and we are working to help people in our community do just that. The Royal has several programs related to youth mental health and suicide prevention.
Is It Just Me? is an educational program that brings high school students to The Royal to learn about mental health. The students hear from other young people who share their experiences with mental illness; from clinicians who explain the signs of mental illness and what to do about them; and from researchers who explain exactly what goes on in the brain. The aim is to demystify mental illness, empowering young people to talk about mental health and ask for help when they need it.
The Royal is also home of D.I.F.D., a youth-driven program focused on raising awareness and inspiring conversations about youth mental health. Created by friends and family of Daron Richardson who lost her life to suicide at the young age of 14, D.I.F.D. is inspired by hope for a future where young people will reach out for help without fear or shame. D.I.F.D. supports research and initiatives aimed at transforming youth mental health.
The Royal also works closely with other community organizations as the co-chair of the Community Suicide Prevention Network which hosted Ottawa’s youth suicide-prevention summit in February, aimed at making Ottawa a Suicide Safer Community.
Of course, as a mental health centre, The Royal is directly involved in the treatment of youth who are suffering from severe mental illness. In addition, some of our current research projects study suicidal ideation in youth and mental health education in high schools. Depression, which is one of the most common mental illnesses among youth, is also a key focus of our research.