Montreal 11-year-old raising money to help kids struggling with mental health

Click to play video: 'Quebec elementary student gives back after mental health struggle'
Quebec elementary student gives back after mental health struggle
A grade six student is raising money and giving back for the fifth year in a row to mental health funds after experiencing her own struggle recently. Dan Spector has the story – Feb 19, 2022

A Montreal grade 6 student is giving back in a big way after going through mental health struggles.

For the fifth year in a row 11-year-old, Melodie Dagostino is raising money to help other kids who might be suffering in silence.

Dagostino has been through a lot in her young life.

“I hope that people can actually realize that there are struggles for children and not just for adults,” she said.

“She suffered through a lot in a short period of time,” said Melodie’s mother, Laura Doghramadjian.

Melodie’s parents got divorced, and as the pandemic wore on there were multiple deaths in the family.

The passing of her grandmother, Laura’s mom, hit particularly hard.

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READ MORE: Number of people in Ontario needing mental health support increasing, survey suggests

“I would spend a lot of time with her and it was quite hard when she passed away, especially for my mother,” Melodie said.

Laura said her mother was like a “second mom” to Melodie.

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Laura fell into a depression. If all that wasn’t enough, the 11-year-old went through the death of a beloved pet. It all weighed heavily on Melodie.

“I saw her go from being the happiest little girl ever, running around, to losing interest and friends, grades going down, everything,” Laura recounted.

“I think it is quite hard to ask for help,” said Melodie.

The grade 6 student is now getting the help she needs.

“Sometimes when Melodie feels there’s stuff going on at home, we’re able to talk about it and we get over it,” said Vittoria Lastarza, a Behavioural Tech at Melodie’s school, Cedarcrest Elementary. Melodie is in therapy too.

READ MORE: Quebec government announces new funds help treat mental health issues

“Since the past year or so I’ve got my daughter back,” Laura said. “She’s getting bubbly. She’s had a smile.”

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Melodie is far from the only child fighting demons.

According to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, there was a 30 per cent increase in teens showing up at the ER with suicidal thought last year.

“Those data have been quite concerning for us because we’re limited by the amount of resources that we have,” said Dr. Martin Gignac, Montreal Children’s Hospital Head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Melodie is doing her part to help. As she has for the past five years, she’s raising money for the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

She wants donations instead of birthday presents, and her goal is to raise $5,000 to help other kids struggling with their mental health.  She hopes to raise $1,000 for every year she’s been doing her part to help.

“It’s ok not to feel like you don’t know what you feel,” she said, relaying a lesson learned in therapy.

Laura says she is “beyond proud” of her daughter. Melodie’s initiative is bringing her a lot of fans.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that she’s a student advocate for such a great cause as mental health,” said Cedarcrest Principal Otis Delaney.

Dr. Gignac, of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, said he’s “very impressed and moved” by her story.

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“Not only is she trying to overcome it for her well-being, but she’s also trying to make the world a better place,” he said.

The Montreal Children’s is working to expand its mental health services, and donations to Melodie’s campaign will help that happen.

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