Did you know that about 1 in 7 young people in BC—or 14%—will experience a mental illness at some point? Many mental illnesses—between 50% and about 70%—show up before the age of 18, so they can have a huge impact on a child’s development. Mental illnesses can affect how well kids do in school and how they form relationships with other kids and adults.
Caring adults provide young people with a sense of belonging, acceptance, empowerment and connection- factors that are known to foster mental health and emotional well-being. While there are many ways to go about treatment for mental illness, one thing remains: everyone needs support which can include family, friends, counselors or mentors. Our research has found that successful mentoring matches can help young people develop better relationships with their families and other adults. Mentoring also has been shown to have a positive effect on some forms of delinquent behavior, including skipping school and skipping class, initiating alcohol and drug use, and getting in physical fights. Mentorship is not the only solution to help youth with mental health struggles, but it’s a great place to start.
May 1st-7th is Mental Health Week in Canada. Started by the Canadian Mental Health Association, this year will mark the CMHA’s 66th annual Mental Health Week. Throughout the week, we encourage everyone to reflect on their own attitudes and to take action for increased mental health. It’s time we get loud for mental health and find more productive solutions to dealing with an issue that so many Canadians face.
If you to positively change a young girl’s life and want to become a mentor, or know someone who may need a Big Sister, please visit our website www.bigsisters.bc.ca