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Montreal Families

Camp helps kids with mentally ill family members

It is well known that the effects of mental illness extend far beyond the person who is diagnosed. It can be especially hard for children, who can experience stress, confusion and social isolation stemming from a parent or sibling’s illness.

This summer, West Island-based organization Friends for Mental Health will be offering free summer workshops for children ages 7 to 12 who have a mentally ill family member.

The four-day program will include games, educational discussions and art projects. Themes such as self-esteem are explored through sharing, art and education.

The camp is part of the Anna’s Workshops program, which provides support for families dealing with mental illness. Children will learn stress-relief techniques through painting, music, yoga, and sculpting.  They will also learn about different kinds of mental illness in educational workshops.

“Many of these kids have a lot of stress in their lives, and they don’t necessarily have anyone to teach them how to self-regulate their emotions or control their moods,” said psychotherapist and art therapist Jaimie Byrne, who began the camps six years ago.

She says that just four days of camp can make a big difference in the participant’s performance in school and with social relationships. Workshops de-stigmatize mental illness and teach children how to better express their emotions, which Byrne says allows them to form closer friendships with their peers.

The camp will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from June 29 to July 3 at 750 Dawson Ave. in Dorval.

For more information call 514-636-6885 or visit asmfmh.org

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