Alex and Sara, two of our amazing speakers, joined forces virtually to discuss mental health among teens. Both Alex and Sara realized they were experiencing mental health struggles at a young age, and later Alex transitioned from female to male. In today’s times, mental health is talked about much more frequently as well as acknowledged versus when Alex and Sara attended highschool, as there was not as much support. Sara mentions she wishes there was more education around mental health when she was in highschool so she did not feel as alone. If mental health was more talked about, Sara believes that she would have sought help sooner. The newfound awareness and education surrounding mental health have helped to allow youth and adults to feel more comfortable speaking up about their mental health.
Both Alex and Sara recognize that their teen years were not all bad and that there were positives, such as having close friends that they could hang out with. Having quality friends and a good support system, even if you chose not to share personal details of your everyday obstacles, helps one’s mental health. Hobbies, including arts and music, were especially helpful for both Sara and Alex in high school. The arts can be an under-appreciated coping tool for mental health, in and out of high school, including during the recent lockdowns.
Together, they address the stigma around attending therapy. Sara reminds us that it is important to remember that mental illness is a big part of one’s health. Also, it is important to remember that different doctors specialize in different areas, and you can always get a second opinion or a new doctor if you do not feel comfortable with your first. Sara recognizes that at first, starting a medication to help manage mental health can be difficult to accept, however, if you require assistance, you should not be ashamed of what helps you.
Advice Sara and Alex have for youth who may be experiencing mental health struggles right now, is to tell someone; if you cannot talk to your parents, talk to a teacher, a school counsellor, or a friend. Further, it is important to remain kind to yourself. Taking a step back helps you realize that things take time, even if you want the troubles to go away in that moment. This expresses the importance of using our coping tools and strategies to help manage our stress at the moment.
At YouthSpeak, we share one-on-one conversations with our youth speakers on their journey through topics on mental health and wellness. These are their personal stories and ways they’ve overcome various obstacles in their lives. We want to help youth find their voices and empower themselves through the power of their narrative!
To watch this whole podcast, visit our YouTube channel ‘YouthSpeak Performance Charity’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li5XWSVEIdE&t=749s
YouthSpeak is a charity organization based in the GTA, Canada that conducts assemblies and interactive workshops to help increase the resiliency of youth facing challenges today. To find out more about our projects and initiatives visit our website. Help support our For-Youth-by-Youth projects by donating at: https://youthspeak.ca/ or https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/i-support-youthspeak/