In Canada, it’s estimated about 10-20 per cent of youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder. To raise awareness about mental health and substance abuse in youth, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing students are hosting a Youth Mental Health forum.
“We wanted to focus on the youth population because that’s a population that we don’t know much about and don’t have much experience with,” says Jot Brar, a fourth-year student.
Now in its second year, the mental health forum topic is picked by students. Last year, the forum focused on the Mental Health Act.
“Two separate cohorts this year identified youth mental health to be a target topic that they wanted to discuss,” says April Holland, instructor in the BPN program.
Holland says mental health affects every single person and the youth population is often neglected.
“Youth are suffering, they are dying from suicides, they’re going into adulthood with poor coping mechanisms and our goal is to try identify and look at it as a health promotion strategy rather than just a reactive treatment strategy and that’s what psychiatric nursing really emphasizes.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suicide is the number one cause of death amongst Canadian youth aged 15-24. And only one in five children in Canada receives the help they need.
The forum will have workshops, presentation and two keynote speakers.
- Malcolm Jenkins, manager of the Inner City Youth Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver
- Lynn Godfrey, Child and Youth Mental Health & Substance Use Local Action Team, Surrey & North Delta Division of Family Practice
The forum is open to the public including anyone who interacts with youth. Brar says she hopes professionals can incorporate what they learn in the workshops to their everyday work.
“I hope they broaden their horizons in understanding what actual mental health and mental illness is and that they understand how it affects this particular population.”