By Leslie Savage
The second leading cause of death in Canada for teenagers is suicide, very often related to mental health issues. BC has declared May 7 as Youth Mental Health Day. On May 6, Revelstoke Secondary School’s Wellness Fair attracted 17 Revelstoke organizations and businesses to showcase wellness services for youth in our community.
This morning (Thursday, May 7), at an assembly introduced by RSS student Raine Carnegie the focus was on challenging the stigma of mental health issues among youth.
First, Raine showed a Ted Talks video of Kevin Breel, a star student, athlete and performer, telling about his own daily ongoing fight with depression, and encouraging young people who feel depressed to TALK ABOUT IT. Depression is different from sadness, he says. Sad feelings related to a break-up, a family death, the loss of a job, or the departure of a friend, are normal. Depression is different: it invades your life at all times, making the prospect of continuing sometimes almost unbearable. Breel, a stand-up comic, insists that the way out is not to hide your depression but in fact to let other people know about it. This may not end the depressive feelings, but it will let others know, and that in itself will ease the intense loneliness that depression can bring. Another resource is MindingThe Elephant.com. Raine concluded with some information—one fact being that 70 to 90% of depressed people who seek help will find relief.
The second part of the assembly consisted of 4 student-made videos also intended to end stigma—this time not just against those who suffer from mental illness, but stigma related to other sorts of difference.
On April 25-26, the Love Is Louder media workshop came to RSS. With the help of Megan Shandro, Youth Liaison Worker at RSS, Shana Codd-Wozniak applied for a grant to bring this Vancouver-based group to Revelstoke to work with a small group of students. The Stoke Youth Network, Stoke FM and the Columbia Basin Trust supported the Leave Out Violence (LOVE) workshop to make videos aimed at overcoming stigma attached to differences. Shana’s video entitled Labels argues that labels define us, but need not confine us.
Emily Richardson and Amelia Brown created a second short, titled I Am Unique, which encourages self-acceptance.
The third video, That’s So Gay, aimed at acceptance of LGBT students, was produced by Julia Dorrius, Riley Olson, Hanna Busch, Anna Hunchak and Danielle Duguay.
All of the student videos can be seen on Facebook at YouthLiaisonMegan (scroll down). If you want a glimpse of what RSS students find riveting, have a look. The faces in the audience were totally focused for the whole 40 minutes of the assembly—and gave Raine a standing ovation. Safety and acceptance are currently the focus of many school activities, and the LOVE media workshop shows RSS students topping the polls for engagement and compassion.
By Leslie Savage