Camp workshop helps kids with mentally ill family members




The mental illness of a family member can be a hard thing to explain to a child; they may struggle to understand the behaviours they see, and often experience anxieties of their own.

For that reason, Dorval-based community health organization Friends for Mental Health is offering a free, four-day summer camp workshop for kids ages 7 to 12 who are dealing with the mental illness of a family member.

Led by psychotherapist and art therapist Jaime Byrne, the workshops aim to provide children with both age-appropriate education and coping skills. Children will learn about the brain and how mental illness works and be given tools for self-expression, relaxation and self-care, crisis management and finding a support system.

The days will also include problem-solving activities, games, outdoor play, artwork and creative self-expression.

“Just being able to express what they and their family are going through creates a big drop in anxiety,” said Byrne, who has been leading the camp for five years. “The kids come away more relaxed and better able to explain their feelings.”

The camp is part of the Anna’s Workshops program, created in 2007 to provide support for families dealing with mental illness.

The camp runs from July 8 to 11 at the headquarters of Friends for Mental Health, 750 Dawson Ave. in Dorval. Families wishing to register should call 514-636-6885 and ask for Jamie Byrne.

For more information about the various services offered by this organization, visit asmfmh.org

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