Following the suicide of their teenaged son Kelty, Whistler's Ginny and Kerry Dennehy found themselves consumed by a darkness that very few of us could ever imagine.
"When we went through the situation we did with Kelty, we didn't know anything. We didn't know where to turn. We knew nothing at all," Ginny explained, reflecting on that March day in 2001.
That immense tragedy led the Dennehys on a path towards helping others suffering under similar circumstances; the couple has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for youth mental health through their foundation, and in 2007, the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre opened as part of Vancouver's BC Children's Hospital.
Since then, the Kelty name "has become synonymous" with mental health in B.C., Ginny said, and the resource centre has offered help to countless people across the province, and beyond. Now, thanks to a revamped website—keltymentalhealth.ca—that support is more accessible than ever before.
The updated website is intended to be more user-friendly, and offers several new features, including new sections for parents and caregivers, health professionals, school personnel, and youth and young adults to help them find relevant information more efficiently; improved search functionality; a new collection tool to help visitors save and share personalized collections of resources from the website; and updated information on mental health and substance use challenges and disorders that has been reviewed by clinical experts at BC Children's Hospital.
"The new website is so much easier to navigate and the information has been vetted by experts and is written in language that people can understand," said Mary McCracken, Family Smart parent-in-residence at the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre.
"As Kelty is a provincial resource, it is great that families living in both urban and rural areas of B.C. can access it to help children who are struggling."
For the Dennehys, the website represents the culmination of years of hard work. "We wanted a place where people could actually have one-stop shopping, where they could go and get all of the information," Ginny said. "When we first started out at the resource centre, it was all books and pamphlets and all that kind of stuff. This was so many years ago, and I gotta tell you, when I started ... going through the website, I just had the biggest smile on my face. You wouldn't believe it. I can't believe this is finally happening.
"I can't even express how happy I am that this has finally all come together."
Also launching last week was the Kelty Centre's new Instagram account, @keltycentre, which is meant to complement the information already provided through the centre's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
In the social media age, Ginny said it is essential that the resources made available to youth, parents and school professionals keep pace with advances in technology and media.
"They really have done a great job (with the website) of thinking about the whole aspect of the issue," she noted. "As Sarah Bell (executive director of the BC Children's Hospital) says, one in five people in Canada suffers from mental health issues. We're not just talking children, we're talking adults, we're talking everybody, so if we don't know how to handle this disease and where to find resources, we're in big trouble. This is hugely, hugely helpful." Ginny will be the keynote speaker at this year's BC Children's Hospital fundraiser, the 32nd annual Crystal Ball, slated for Nov. 16 at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.