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Community unites at Festival of Colours Night Market to transform youth mental health care

Amidst the elegant confines of the Hilton Toronto/Markham Suites, an exuberant throng of nearly 300 community members convened on April 27 for an evening of purpose and joy, courtesy of the Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) Foundation – the Festival of Colours Night Market. This jubilant affair, generously sponsored by RBC and buoyed by The Nanji Family Foundation, pulsated with the vibrant mosaic of our community’s diverse cultures.

Health care is ever-changing and so too is the community that Oak Valley Health’s MSH serves. In recent years, the demand for mental health services at MSH has increased substantially, and wait times are at a record high, especially among the youth population.

Nestled within Oak Valley Health’s Markham Stouffville Hospital, the Child and Adolescent Services (CAS) program stands as a beacon of hope, offering outpatient mental health care. Accessible exclusively through physician referrals, this multidisciplinary team is committed to providing assessment and treatment for children aged five to 18 grappling with moderate to severe mental health concerns. From anxiety disorder to bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder, the team addresses a myriad of challenges, including self-injurious behaviours and suicidal ideation.

“Government funding is not enough, community giving is essential to deliver exceptional, patient-centred care,” says Suzette Strong, CEO MSH Foundation. “Our community is one of fastest growing and most diverse communities in Canada and initiatives like the Festival of Colours Night Market help ensure we have the resources in place so our team of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals can care for any child and their family when they need us, right in their own backyard.”

The proceeds from this remarkable evening will underpin the establishment of a groundbreaking Child and Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Unit at MSH. This six-bed unit promises specialized treatment and crucially diminishes wait times for children in crisis, offering swift access to life-saving mental health care.

“As a community, we need to band together to continue to destigmatize mental illness while working together to bring innovation and mental health care close to home,” says Dr. Rus Sethna, Chief of Psychiatry at Oak Valley Health.

The night unfolded in a tapestry of senses, with diverse food stations tantalizing palates and engaging activities like henna art, beverage tastings, makeup bars, and a lively photo booth. Musical luminaries such as two-time Juno winner Kiran Ahluwalia and Canadian R&B sensation Sean Jones stirred hearts and souls, accompanied by the pulsating beats of DJ Barbi, known for electrifying performances alongside industry titans. The entertainment lineup also boasted the talents of world-renowned electric violinist Nemesis, the enigmatic Dr. Draw, and Canadian Box Champion Scott Jackson. Mysterion the Mind Reader mesmerized attendees with his intuitive perspective, as seen on America’s Got Talent as well as Canada’s premier Bollywood Dance School Canada.

Relive moments of the event or donate at www.mshfestivalofcolours.ca

 

Photo: Oak Valley Health’s Mental Health team help shine line light on mental health crisis for children
and youth in community.

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