Young woman to share story at upcoming mental health event in Tsawwassen

Anxiety in Children and Youth set for next Monday at SDSS

For Laurie, even getting out of the house was a big challenge.

Now 22, she knows firsthand the struggle dealing with mental health issues, which included debilitating anxiety in high school and lengthy panic attacks that kept her home for over a month.

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Laurie wants to share her experiences with others also facing mental health challenges at an event at South Delta Secondary next week.

Sponsored by the Delta Division of Family Practice, the public information forum, Anxiety in Children and Youth, will be an opportunity for young people to learn about the "collaborative" project.

"I am involved in the collaborative (B.C. Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative) as a youth voice who has lived experience. I've been there and I know what did and didn't work. The best part is that the other people involved are so excited for my feedback and the feedback of other youth like me," Laurie says.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it's estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder.

What's more, research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry found teenagers are experiencing more depression and anxiety than they did a decade ago.

The review of 19 studies conducted across 12 countries found the majority showed a deterioration in the mental health of teenage girls when it came to depressive and anxious symptoms.

Laurie says there are many issues the collaborative is working to address and she believes stigma and difficulties finding help are the most important ones that need to be addressed.

"We need to be as open about mental health issues as we can be because they affect us all. If we can start an open dialogue, youth, parents and even service providers will feel less alone and hopeless when they need help," she says.

"I am excited for the May 9th event because I hope that information about mental health being shared openly as well as hearing stories from people who have actually lived with issues like anxiety will stimulate conversation."

The upcoming information forum is organized by the Delta Local Action Team, part of the B.C. Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative, which is a partnership of Doctors of B.C. and the provincial government.

The session is open to youth, parents, teachers, educators and care providers. Guest speakers will include child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Sara Junaid, Lynne Godfrey with The FORCE, as well as youth and parents sharing their personal stories. It takes place Monday, May 9 at the SDSS theatre from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The event includes resource tables, presentations, a panel discussion as well as a reception and prize draw.

For more information on the forum, visit divisionsbc.ca/delta.

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