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Aurora resident donates money to improve young people's mental health

Donation will go to Canadian Mental Health Association
Jan. 5, 2021
Simone Joseph

Young people badly need mental health support, says George Rappos.

Rappos is an Aurora resident who was so motivated to help that he has donated $10,000 to The Canadian Mental Health Association, (York Region and South Simcoe).

“With COVID-19, mental illness has been exacerbated,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “Especially with young people, it’s been a hard time for them,” added Rappos, who has two teenaged children.

“We have a responsibility to ensure young people have proper treatment and needed attention,” Rappos said, pointing out mental health still has a stigma.

In the last year or so, he has heard about several teenagers in the Aurora/Newmarket area, who have died by suicide, Rappos said.

Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Mental disorders in youth are ranked as the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada, surpassed only by injuries. In Canada, only one out of five children who need mental health services receives them.

Rappos’ donation will be used to help fund Youth and Teen Mental Health Services, which focus on the emotional and social well-being of young people aged 12 to 25.

A recent CMHA national study, in partnership with the University of British Columbia, revealed that 60 per cent of young people have experienced worsening mental health as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 19 per cent of those in the 18 to 24 age bracket have experienced suicidal thoughts.

“As a society, we have a collective responsibility to make certain our young people get the support, professional therapy and medical attention needed to better their mental health,” Rappos said. “Further, we must denounce the stigma of mental illness in order to lift our youth from the shadows of shame and isolation. Good mental health should be given the same attention as any of the many health issues that affect us all ... Especially during this pandemic, the mental health concerns of young people are exacerbated. That’s why I made this donation and intend to do so again next year and in the years following.”

Rappos has thought for a few years about getting involved with the mental health association.

“Millions of Canadians are directly and indirectly affected by mental health challenges,” said Catherine Matzig, CMHA (York Region South Simcoe’s) senior director of philanthropy, in a release. “That’s our motivation to develop innovative pathways of care for those who are living with mental illness, provide early intervention, and support not only those living with mental illness, but also the people who love and care for them. That is why we work tirelessly to help those in need: because it affects us all.”

Rappos, who is a Desjardins agent, works mostly out of Newmarket, offering insurance and other financial services.

He is challenging other local businesses to help CMHA YRSS and other agencies in the region that support young people.