Do you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions? If you do, you are certainly not alone, and help is available. Although it isn’t discussed as openly and as frequently as often as it should be, mental health touches everyone directly or indirectly at some point in their lifetime. And teens are not an exception. Here are some interesting facts about the important topic of mental health and how to address any concerns you may have. Always remember, your well-being is important and there are people who care about you.
General Facts About Mental Health
- Mental health is one of the most widespread health issues in North America.
- 1 in 5 North Americans will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
- 2 in 3 suffer in silence with mental health conditions in fear of judgment and rejection.
- Every day, over half a million Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness.
More About Your Mental Health
You might think being a teenager makes you immune to mental health concerns, however, it’s quite the opposite. Each year, one in five Canadians and one in five students experience a mental health illness or concern. Nearly two-thirds of mental health issues begin in childhood or adolescence. Many illnesses develop and peak in the intermediate and secondary grades. Early diagnosis and intervention are critical for students of all ages. Mental health does not discriminate. The “spectrum” of mental illness affects students from all backgrounds, genders, ages, and across all grades. Many children and teens live with mental illness. Awareness, sensitivity, and guidance are vital to helping them learn, grow, manage and cope with their situation.
It is important to be aware of the life-threatening side of mental health. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens. If you feel you or someone you know about is at risk, don’t remain silent. Speak with the person you are concerned about and someone you trust, such as a parent, teacher or guidance counselor. You can also call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service for support, toll-free at 1-833-456-4566.
What Can You Do If You Have Mental Health Concerns?
If you have recently been diagnosed with a mental health condition and feel emotional or overwhelmed, it’s understandable. Be patient with yourself—give yourself time to get help and get well. Acknowledge that it is OK to not feel OK. In time, with the proper help, you can and will get better.
Ask a Professional
Make an appointment with your family doctor (or see a doctor at a walk-in clinic if you don’t have a family doctor) and have an honest conversation about how you have been feeling. The doctor may want to refer you to see a mental health specialist. Stick to your treatment plan, should a plan be made for you. Don’t skip doctor’s appointments. Remember, you have nothing to be ashamed of. As a student, you can also ask to speak with your school guidance counselor for support and resource information.
Take It One Step at a Time
If you have been diagnosed by your doctor with a mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, empower yourself by learning about the condition. Start with basic information and learn a little each day. Make a plan so that you know what to do if your symptoms get worse. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes. Ask friends and family to watch out for warning signs.
Consume a healthy diet. That means junk food is still junk food, even if it does not contain ingredients you need to avoid. Choose clean, nutrient-dense whole foods, especially a rainbow of high-fiber fruit and non-starchy vegetables, legumes, quality proteins like free-range eggs and fatty fish (wild salmon is a good example) and healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds. Learn how to prepare fresh meals to avoid processed foods and ensure you are eating nutritious foods—you may even find cooking helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Getting adequate sleep is very important when dealing with any illness. If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, talk to your doctor about what you can do to get better quality sleep.
Move Well: Say Yes to Yoga
Yoga offers numerous health benefits — it can help you stretch, strengthen and elongate your muscles, providing increased and improved blood flow, muscle tone and flexibility. It can also help relieve muscle and joint pain and tenderness. Many yoga poses can also help improve your digestion to “keep you running” efficiently. The deep, peaceful, meditative breaths and meditation taken during a yoga class can help refocus your mind to a state of calm. Consider meditation and mindfulness classes as well. These techniques are all supported by research. In general, physical activity is excellent for both our physical and mental health.
Don’t Suffer in Silence
Last but certainly not least, confide in loved ones. Counseling can be helpful—contact organizations in your area that offer mental health support. Consider joining a local mental health support group that is age appropriate.
Where You Can Get Help
|Canada Suicide Prevention Service||Toll-free 1-833-456-4566
|Kids Help Phone||Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Live Chat counseling at www.kidshelpphone.ca
|Post-Secondary Student Helpline||Phone: 1-866-925-5454
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
Children’s Mental Health Ontario
Mood Disorders Association of Ontario
Ontario College of Teachers</p