Kaden Young search prompts mental health support

The ongoing search for Kaden Young, who has been missing since Feb. 21, could be mentally exhausting for volunteers searching for hours at a time along Grand River. Some community agencies have reached out and offered 24/7 help.

Victim Services Wellington is offering 24/7 support to those searching for the 3-year-old boy

A family friend of Kaden Young's father said he was out searching Friday because 'it's my buddy's kid. He'd do the same for me.' (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Mental health support is available for volunteers who have been heavily invested in the search for Kaden Young, the missing three-year-old boy who was swept away by the flooding Grand River on Feb. 21.

Search teams have been scouring the Grand River for hours at a time. Just this past weekend volunteers were out on the banks again, with the mayor of Grand Valley Steve Soloman among them.

"We have a lot of people that are searching that feel connected because they have kids, and this could've happened to anyone," said Elizabeth Kent, executive director of Victim Services Wellington. She was talking about supports available for volunteer searchers with Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition on CBC Radio.

Kent said volunteers can turn to mental health supports and services when they feel like they need to talk about the experience. Some agencies are offering help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Watching for signs

Hours of fruitless searching can bring a lot of frustration and anger, said Kent, and people need to look for things that signal that someone needs help.

"If we've experienced a sudden loss, a traumatic situation, we tend not to eat, we tend not to sleep, and we tend not to drink a lot of water," she said.

Having problems focusing is also another symptom that comes with frustration.

For families choosing to bring their teenage children out to search, they need to be careful and not let them search on their own.

"You definitely don't want to have a teenager locate (the boy)... But having said that, I think that it's important for teenagers to be part of it."

Some volunteers are also from out of town, as far as Barrie. Kent said local victim services organizations will be able to help those volunteers find help as needed.

"There's a lot of support out there," Kent said, "And it's just talking and checking in to make sure that you're okay."