Bell's Let's Talk campaign funds new Lutherwood mental health program

Funds raised by Bell's 2015 Let's Talk campaign are paying for new programming designed for the parents of troubled teens, at Lutherwood.
Lutherwood, a non-profit that offers health and social services, will be able to continue a new program thanks to money from Bell's Let's Talk mental health campaign. (Lutherwood)

Funds raised by Bell's 2015 Let'sTalk campaign are paying for new programming designed for the parents of troubled teens at Lutherwood, a non-profit social services organization with facilities across Waterloo Region. 

Connect Parenting, which helps parents find better techniques to help their children and teenagers who have serious mental health problems, first ran ran as a pilot program in fall of 2015.

"This allows us to run the group, and start to embed it in our operations sustainably," said program manager Aaron Stauch, of the new funding, in an interview with host Craig Norris on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition in Kitchener.

Connect Parenting was developed by Marlene Moretti, of Simon Fraser University. The parents and guardians meet weekly for 10 weeks in a group of about 12 to learn how to better relate to their child.

Stauch says one of the most important elements is teaching parents how to show their child empathy. 

"I think when you're under stress, some of the basic principles around empathy are easy to forget, or easy not to follow through on," said Stauch. "It's saying 'at least your mental health isn't as bad as THIS,' which gets percieved by the child as minimizing what they're going through."

He said the program isn't about fixing bad parenting, but instead looks to help parents understand where the possible roots of their child's problems may be. 

"When you look at children experiencing mental health challenges, often parents may not understand because they've not experienced it themselves. So the parents need a reframe, to make it a safe space [and] remove the stigma," said Stauch.

Lutherwood says the one-time $20,000 grant means the not-for-profit social service organization can get the program up and running -- and self-sufficient -- starting in February.