Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) has received a $6,615 donation from local paramedic, author and mental health advocate Natalie Harris in support of the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

“We are so thankful for not only the funds raised by Natalie, but also for her advocacy,” says Eric Dean, RVH Foundation Chief Executive Officer. “By sharing her own story about mental illness and the care she received at RVH, she is encouraging people to speak up about their experiences and empowering them to seek help.”

The funds were raised through Harris’s recent event, an Evening for Mental Health. A sold-out crowd of close to 300 people enjoyed an evening featuring keynote speakers Sean McCann, formerly of the band Great Big Sea, and Michael Landsberg, Canadian sports journalist and founder of #sicknotweak, who both shared their personal journey with mental health.

The event raised an equal amount for #IVEGOTYOURBACK911, a campaign which brings awareness to Emergency First Responder’s mental health.

“It takes a village to care for those suffering from mental illness (and) part of that village includes RVH,” said Harris. “Having the ability to care for young people battling with their mental health here, in Barrie, is so essential for their recovery.”

The Simcoe Muskoka Regional Child and Youth Mental Health Program officially opened last year, on Dec. 19. The unit features eight in-patient beds, child and youth-friendly décor, along with a day program so kids can get the help they need and return home each night.

Photo:  Mary Webb of Child & Youth Mental Health Program and Adult Crisis Services (left); and Eric Dean, RVH Foundation CEO (right), accept a donation from Natalie Harris in support of the Simcoe Muskoka Regional Child and Youth Mental Health Program.