As a continuation from last month’s blog, I decided to bring my Adventures Past 9 PM into February.
For anyone who didn’t read the last blog, here’s the gist behind the series: instead of watching tv past 9 PM, I instead focused on trying to learn or read something new within the mental health field.
In February, I took CAMH’s Youth and Mental Health 101 to get back to the basics in understanding what is a mental health challenge and how does it affect Canadian youth?
In this blog, I’m going to share some mental health descriptions, statistics, and resilience stories.
One video I found the most impactful was “Said No Teen Ever”, highlighting that it’s less common for youth to reach out to others with a clear statement of their mental health challenge and how they need support. It’s everyone’s responsibility to understand and pay attention to signs of mental health challenges and reach out if you see a reason for concern. “When young person is struggling, it’s up to us to notice”
Now, let’s get into the lessons.
Mental Health Challenge (mental illness/poor mental health)
It can alter your thinking, mood, behaviours, and may impact your day to day functioning
Poor mental health can result from genetics, biology, environments, stressful events and other experiences i.e. trauma
Before we go too far, we need to identify one of the biggest challenges mental health and illness face: stigma, prejudice and discrimiation. When we’re not familiar with someone’s behaviour, that may cause us to treat them differently either consciously or unconsciously. This kind of thinking makes it very difficult for people who are struggling to feel safe and accepted when talking about their challenge.
One way to combat this is to learn about other people’s experiences, do your research, and know real faces behind the stories.
CAMH provided a bunch of videos of people sharing their stories. Here’s 2 of them, take a look:
Mental Health challenges can stem from identifying as a person in a certain community.
Some examples are: Indigenous peoples and communities, immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural and racialized groups, people who identify as LGBTQ+.
In the next section, we break out the signs of mental health challenges.
How someone might be feelings
Worried, scared and anxious
Extreme mood swings
Numb, or losing interest in things
How someone might be thinking
Experiencing jumbled thoughts
Finding it hard to concentrate
Making poor decisions
Having strange belief that are not based in reality
Thinking about harming themselves
Thinking about killing themselves
What someone might be doing
Sleeping or eating either more or less than usual
Avoiding school or work
Crying a lot
Drinking or using other drugs excessively
Talking about killing or harming themselves
How it may appear to others
Seeming restless or ‘not put together’
Having physical challenges like headaches and stomach aches
Keeping to themselves more than usual
Seeming annoyed, restless or withdrawn
Some people, you may not notice any major changes
Next, we went through prompts discussing the types of mental health challenges. (copied directly from the lesson).
Anxiety: is a normal and sometimes healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels very high levels of anxiety, it might become a more serious problem. Anxiety triggers something called the “fight–flight–freeze” response, which adds to stress. Anxiety can become a problem when we feel it during events that we perceive to be dangerous but aren’t, or when it stops us from being able to do our regular activities.
Depression:Sadness is something that we all experience. But there’s a difference between normal sadness and depression. When sad feelings become more intense, last a long time or significantly impact day-to-day functioning, this may be depression. Some experiences include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, loss of interest in activities, feelings of low self-worth, thoughts of self-harm, suicidal thoughts.
Eating Disorder: When thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to managing food and weight begin to interfere with your everyday activities, you may have an eating disorder. Some examples include making yourself throw up after meals, counting calories, skipping feels, feeling the need to weigh yourself often. Did you know: It can take 2 to 7 years to recover from an eating disorder. And it is estimated that 50% of individuals will fully recover.
Schizophrenia and Psychosis: Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, behaves and relates to others. Schizophrenia can include psychosis, which is when a person loses contact with reality and can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not.
Substance Use: You may experiment with substances without experiencing harmful effects and without it developing into a bigger problem. If you’re thinking about experimenting with substances, try to be around someone who will take care of you if anything happens and notice how you react once you’ve taken the substance. It is also important to be aware of whether your substance use is becoming a problem
Self Harm: Self-harm is not necessarily related to suicidal thoughts. Stressful life events and existing mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are the main causes of self-harming thoughts and behaviours. Some of the reasons people self harm are to punish themselves, cope with trauma, regain control of their bodies, and to simply “feel better”.
Suicide: Suicide means intentionally ending your own life. It is the second leading cause of death among young Canadians. Compared to other age groups, youth are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and harm themselves, increasing their risk for a suicide attempt. Suicide and mental health are deeply connected: it’s estimated that 90 per cent of people who die by suicide were experiencing a mental health challenge. Someone who shares thoughts of suicide needs to be taken seriously.
Trauma: is the long-lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event or situations. Experiencing traumatic events can challenge a person’s sense of safety, sense of self and ability to regulate emotions and manage relationships. Long after the traumatic events, people who have experienced trauma may feel shame, helplessness, powerlessness and fear
The most important key in all of the descriptions listed is resilience. It’s important to work on building your resilience as it’s not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. Strategies to help copy and adapt can include self care. Not necessarily talking about bubble baths, however it’s taking the time to do things that YOU enjoy or make you feel better. It looks different for everyone.
Thank you for reading my latest Adventure Past 9 PM, I hope you either learned something new, or it inspired you to do some research yourself.
If you’d like to take the class yourself, or browse through their other options, click here.