Coming fresh off of National Youth Week as well as Mental Health Week during the first week of May, there are conversations that need to continue to happen to better support our youth in our local communities.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, approximately 1 in 5 children experience mental health concerns. This number only continues to grow as they enter their adolescent and teenage years. The unfortunate part is that even with a statistic so large, only a very small portion receive the support or resources they actually need.
Increase in mental health needs will only continue to grow amongst youth. When we look at the bigger picture, factors such as social media, generational differences, long waitlists for services, shortage in front line workers, funding etc. all play a large role in how mental health can be impacted. Throw in a pandemic and lockdowns and well – that’s the bitter cherry on top we didn’t need.
So, the big question is – what CAN we do to support our youth whether it is your child, family member or someone in your community? Here are a few things to consider:
- If a child/youth is sharing their emotions or feelings, do not ignore or diminish them. Early intervention is usually the best way to ensure success in the future.
- Do consistent check-ins with their emotions. A simple “How are you doing today?” can uplift their mood and help build a healthy relationship.
- Forget the ‘taboo’ nature of mental health – look into resources and strategies whether it is a counsellor, therapist, coping mechanisms online, books, videos etc.
- Trying our best to not make a generational/cultural gap interfere with the child/youths feelings. Whether or not it is a first generation Canadian youth or others were raised differently, the feelings of the child/youth are still valid.
- Show lots of love, acceptance, kind words and positive affirmations.
- Create a positive environment for them.
- Take care of your own mental health! This can impact how you relate to the child/youth but also ensure you are in a healthy space to support them.
The list is endless, but as a community it is our responsibility to support and shape the leaders of tomorrow to the best of our ability. Indus Community Services offers great support through our Child, Youth and Parenting program. For more information, please contact Indus. Additionally, if you are looking for resources for a child/youth and are not sure where to begin, visit www.wheretostart.ca which has an easy to use Mental Health roadmap.