“It wasn’t safe at home.”


Five years ago, Roxanne’s son began to struggle with his mental health – he was coping with significant challenges that caused a lot of stress for the family.

“It was at a point where my son was being so aggressive that it wasn’t safe at home,” says Roxanne.

On top of that, Roxanne felt alone in her struggle. When she would speak with other parents, she felt dismissed, or that her son’s challenges were her fault. The message she heard was: if only she had only parented differently, if only she tried a different approach, maybe her son would be healthier.

That mental health stigma made Roxanne feel isolated and forced into silence.

After accessing services and resources provided by Parents’ Lifeline of Eastern Ontario (PLEO), a United Way Ottawa partner, Roxanne learned that many other local parents were experiencing the same challenges.

Hearing from others helped Roxanne learn from their experiences, and discover that hope and recovery is possible.

“PLEO was able to provide me with a helpline and I was able to access the support groups. I was like, wow! I’m not alone.”

- Roxanne

PLEO is a family support organization for parents and caregivers whose children, youth or young adults are dealing with mental health and/or addictions challenges. United Way Ottawa was, and continues to be, one of the first funders of PLEO, ensuring that parents across Eastern Ontario get the support they need, when they need it.

After attending group support sessions and one-on-one counselling, and calling PLEO’s helpline, Roxanne feels better equipped to take care of her son and her family. These services also helped her feel supported through the difficult times, knowing that someone was always available to listen, just a phone call away.

In 2016-17, thanks to United Way donors, 47,351 people in Ottawa received mental health and crisis supports through community-based services like the peer support groups provided by PLEO.

In any given year, one in five people in Ottawa will be touched by a mental issue. If you have a child facing mental health issues and would like support, call PLEO at 613-321-3211 (Ottawa area) or 1-855-775-7005 (Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry; North Lanark; North Grenville; Renfrew County; Prescott Russell).

“We share that vision with United Way, that families get the help they need when and where they need it.”

- Elyse Schipper, Executive Director, PLEO



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