It’s estimated that about 10-20 per cent of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder.
Psychiatric nursing students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University chose to address the problem by raising awareness about mental health and substance abuse at their second annual Youth Mental Health forum in Langley on Tuesday, July 2.
“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,” said Jot Brar, a fourth-year student.
Last year’s forum focused on the Mental Health Act.
Topics are picked by the students.
“Two separate cohorts this year identified youth mental health to be a target topic that they wanted to discuss,” said April Holland, instructor in KPU’s Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing program.
Holland said mental health affects every person, and the youth population is often neglected.
“Youth are suffering,” she said. “They are dying from suicides, they’re going into adulthood with poor coping mechanisms.”
She said the students’ goal is to promote health, rather than just react with treatment.
“That’s what psychiatric nursing really emphasizes,” she explained.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, suicide is the number one cause of death amongst Canadian youth aged 15-24 years, and only one in five children in Canada receives the help they need.
The forum will have workshops, presentations and two keynote speakers: Malcolm Jenkins, manager of the Inner City Youth Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, and Lynn Godfrey, Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Local Action Team, Surrey and North Delta Division, of Family Practice.
The forum is open to the public, including anyone who interacts with youth.
Brar said 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 population.”
The forum runs from 1 to 6 p.m. in KPU Langley Auditorium, East Building 1270, 20901 Langley Bypass.
The deadline to register has been extended to June 28.
Register at https://www.kpu.ca/events/youth-mental-health-forum-2019.