Mental health intersects with every one of our societies most critical current issues – an increase in poverty, homelessness, human trafficking, substance and online misuse, bullying, mental health-related hospital emergency visits. Mental health is imperative to a person’s overall well-being and today there is a plethora of research to support this, “Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world.” CMHA 2019. This is completely preventable when creative people, innovative projects and the necessary funds are directed to support mental health and wellness in our communities. Our children and youth are most vulnerable to mental health challenges, but what is most concerning is that when left unattended, they are most at-risk for any of the above-named issues.
“Early identification and intervention leads to better health outcomes, improved school attendance and achievement, contributions to society and the workforce, and cost-savings to the healthcare, justice and social service systems.” Healthy Minds Canada. We can’t ignore the importance of prevention in order to provide youth in our communities with the tools and resources to develop the skills and resilience to rise up to the challenges they face that may be an inevitable part of their life.
“Self-regulation and stress are particularly important to the wellbeing of youth. Youth with good self-regulation had better adaptive functioning in social competence, academic achievement, grades, problem behaviors, and depression and anxiety.” Buckner, Mezzacappa, & Beardslee, 2009. At the end of the day, if for no other reason, remember that they are our future, it is in their hands. Who doesn’t want to feel reassured to grow old knowing that you will be supported and empowered because the people in power care. I think it’s safe to say that each and everyone one of us wants to experience as much mental health and wellness as possible in our own lives. Let’s do our part to give the same to the youth in our communities – donate to a youth-serving charity, volunteer, show a kindness or simply smile at a youth passing by, give to a youth who is homeless, stand up/speak up when you see an justice, hug your own kid for no reason. A small gesture can have a tremendous impact, often more than you will ever know! You may change a life, you may save a life.