Mental health: an issue for young people
Stigma, Opportunity, Complexity, and Compassion.
Four panelists spoke these four words at the beginning of the special town hall event, Mental Health 101: Youth and the Hidden Crisis in Our Community. Heather Hiscox of CBC Hamilton hosted the event at Mohawk College last week.
The words illustrated what came to mind for each panelist when they heard the words “youth and mental illness.”
Dr. Sheila Harms, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at McMaster Children’s Hospital, chose the word opportunity, describing how the topic of mental illness can be approached optimistically with a sense of hope.
“There’s so much that we don’t know, there’s a lot that is known, there’s a lot that we can do, and it’s a place that’s waiting for good things to happen,” Harms said.
Some panelists spoke about personal struggles with mental illness.
Mariette Lee, a suicide survivor and president of COPE: A Student Mental Health Initiative at McMaster, recounted her feelings of depression and anxiety during her second year.
“Unfortunately, my condition deteriorated much faster than I would have liked, and … the stress, the anxiety, the feelings of incompetency … made me feel altogether worthless,” Lee said.
After the event, the audience had the opportunity to take the floor and share their personal stories, as well as discuss what could be done to address the issue.
“What the treatment should be is what does the individual need, we need to look at the individual context of the situation … the personhood of that individual,” said second-year nursing student Eric Barby.
“We need to learn how to empathize.”