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$26.5 million donation from Gary Slaight Family to support youth mental health services
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$26.5 million donation from Gary Slaight Family to support youth mental health services

The impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of children and adolescents is significant.

Studies have shown an increase in depression, stress and anxiety among Canadian youth, as well as a growing need for mental-health resources to deal with it.

The Slaight Family Foundation announced a $26.5-million donation to 19 organizations, national charities, community services and hospitals — including St. Michaels Hospital and Scarborough Health Network — to support and expand services for young people suffering from mental health.

“Investing in these connecting services and programs is an investment in the well-being of and future of our youth.”

Gary Slaight, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement.

The announcement comes two weeks after Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, warned that mental health supports in schools may not be sufficient for the students who need them.

According to a report from Toronto Public Health, which De Villa leads, nearly 60 per cent of Ontario students say the pandemic has left them feeling depressed about the future.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) also released two studies earlier this month about adolescent mental health, which found that preteen and younger teen girls heightened mental health effects since the pandemic.

This demographic visited emergency departments for self-harm or suicidal thoughts at a greater increase than they did before COVID-19.

The authors of these studies say the findings highlight the need for better funding to bolster an already stretched pediatric health-care system.

The Slaight Family Foundation was established in 2008.

It’s a non-profit that has made donations to mental health initiatives across the country since 2013. The Slaight Family Foundation was established by Canada’s Walk of Fame Inductee Allan Slaight, Canada’s broadcast pioneer, music leader and a prominent Canadian philanthropist.

Through his generosity, The Slaight Family Foundation proactively supports charitable initiatives in the areas of healthcare, at-risk youth, international development, social services and culture.

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