Supporting Youth Mental Health | YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka
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Supporting our Youth’s Mental Health

February 3rd, 2017 by Louise Picot

Supporting our Youth’s Mental Health

The YMCA is dedicated to the growth of all persons in mind, body and spirit and we recognize health as a holistic balance between this triad. When people think of the Y, they often think about how we provide amazing opportunities for good health and physical activity for people of all ages. However, did you know that the Y also offers services and programs geared towards mental health support? With mental health being a hot topic of discussion, especially during Bell Let’s Talk Day, I think it’s important to reflect on the ways your Y can offer mental health support, especially with the youth in our community.

According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey―Mental Health, 15 to 24 year-olds had the highest rates of anxiety and mood disorders of all other age groups. According to a recent health study, “Mental illness often develops early in life and is a leading cause of disability in youth. One in ten 15 to 24 year-olds reported having experienced symptoms of depression in their lifetime, and one in seven reported suicidal thoughts. A small percentage reported attempting suicide, but they represented more than 150,000 individuals.” These statistics, though upsetting, are not particularly surprising to parents and caregivers, as there is a growing conversation around mental health and suicide. But why is mental health a struggle for youth and what is causing this?

Reading further into the study we found that, “About a third (35%) reported that school was the major contributor to feelings of stress, followed by financial pressures or work (26%), time pressures (8%), personal relationships (6%), a physical or mental health problem or condition (4%), or another source (10%). Approximately 10% indicated that nothing contributed to feelings of stress.” This can feel frustrating for those looking to help youth in our communities, as we can’t eliminate school or everyday stress.

How can I help Support my Children and Their Mental Health?

You can support your child’s mental health in many ways. The Search Institute works with schools, programs, families, and communities to use the Developmental Assets framework to measure and increase the external supports and internal strengths that children and youth need to grow up successfully. At the YMCA we look to this framework as a resource and incorporate it into our youth program development.

How Does the YMCA Support Mental Health in Youth?

The YMCA offers a place in the community where youth can connect with their families, peers and themselves. It’s a safe place where young people can enjoy exercise, recreational fun and so much more. We offer leadership development, mentorship and a chance to give back as a volunteer through our youth programs. So many of the developmental assets are nurtured through our Y communities. By being an active part in the lives of so many youth in our community, we’re able to offer resources and bridge connections to other community organizations.

How can I help Support Youth in my Community?

Donations to the YMCA allow us to provide children, youth and young adults with access to many programs and services that support the development of mental wellness. Your generosity allows youth to attend camp and leadership programs, to have affordable access to fitness equipment and classes, to be empowered through employment programs, to get a second chance through our outreach programs, and so much more. The goal of all YMCA youth programs is to provide youth with a strong sense of belonging to their local and global community. To find out more about how you can help support our youth, click here.

Other Useful Resources

Offering love, acceptance and sense of safety is important but so is providing resources outside of the home to support our youth in times of crisis. Some useful resources include:

http://familyconnexions.ca/cmh-welcome/

http://kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/Home.aspx?gclid=CJ6Ij7OTztECFZy2wAodxz4CJw

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/your-mental-health/youth/

To learn more about the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka Youth programs, please visit www.ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca/community-outreach.

By Melanie Pockaj, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

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