Every mentor hopes to inspire someone to achieve more, but it is difficult for a young person to dream when they are struggling with mental health issues.
It is our responsibility as adults, guardians, and/or youth-serving professionals, to understand and appreciate the context in which youth live every day. For far too many young people that reality involves mental illness, either their own or that of someone in their household. With October 10th being recognized as World Mental Health Day, it’s an important opportunity to shine a light on an issue that impacts hundreds of thousands of children and youth across Canada.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Children First Canada, ‘the kids are not alright’:
- 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence
- One in five children has considered committing suicide and over half of those children had a plan
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15- 24 year olds
Here’s where our second responsibility comes in: to act on these alarming statistics.
Community support in the form of caring interactions between adults and youth is a highly recognized and effective strategy in helping people deal with mental illness, one that may be more amenable to intervention than other types of protective factors.
Adults who have participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs as youth report significant outcomes from these positive, two-way relationships:
- 80% pursue healthy lifestyles
- 87% have strong social networks
- 92% feel confident
- 96% say they’re happy
When we have happy, healthy young people in our communities, everyone benefits.
As we recognize World Mental Health Day, let’s each do our part in maintaining and improving the mental health of young Canadians by volunteering to create, or donating to support, a new mentoring relationship in your community.
Remember, healthy relationships build healthy minds.