by Whitney Welsh, Youth Action Coordinator, and the Youth Action Team at Shoreline Medical
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, the Youth Action Team at the Saanich Peninsula Youth Health Clinic has continued to meet. We are a team of young volunteers in the Sidney region who meet weekly to discuss the health needs of young people in our communities. We work together to promote wellness, connect youth to resources, and spread the word that everyone is deserving of support, no matter what issue they are facing.
As we adjusted to life during lockdowns, we had many conversations about the impacts of Covid on the mental health of ourselves and our peers. Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, youth mental health was already a major topic of discussion amongst our group, and something that our clinic has worked hard to address.
We decided to bring this discussion to a larger group. Using social media, we promoted a survey about mental health and wellness to youth on the Saanich Peninsula. We received an impressive response from youth as young as 12 and up to 24. While many of the things we learned from the survey were no surprise, it was comforting to see that global events have touched everyone, and we are all looking for ways to stay supported.
We found that, while over 90% of youth who participated in our survey have considered reaching out for support with their mental health, many hesitate due to fear of judgement, worries that their concerns will be dismissed or diminished, or struggles with what it means to admit that something is wrong.
Many young people shared that they have felt isolated. Anxiety has increased, especially when it comes to navigating social situations that now feel unfamiliar. We feel a sense of grief when we think about the major life events we’ve missed out on. We struggle with ways that our bodies have changed during isolation and worry about what people will say or think.
We learned that many youth – over 95% – take on the responsibility of supporting friends. While it is important to care for our loved ones, it is also important to ask for the help. We learned about the many creative and resourceful ways in which youth tend to their own mental health, but we also know that sometimes we need someone trustworthy and kind to talk to.
If you or someone you know needs help, counseling is available at the Saanich Peninsula Youth Health Clinic. We are open every Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Our clinic is open to anyone 12 to 24. We offer medical appointments as well. Every service at our clinic is free of charge and confidential – your privacy and ability to speak openly about your health and wellness is a priority.
No one deserves to struggle alone, and sometimes we all need help. You are not alone. Give us a call on Thursday evenings at 250-656 4143.