For youth transitioning to adulthood, life can sometimes feel overwhelming when burdened with new challenges and pressures not previously experienced.
Unfortunately, for the 12-20% of transition-age youth (15 to 24 years of age) in British Columbia who suffer from some form of mental illness, most will not seek professional help which can lead to a lifetime of unnecessary anguish.
In its new policy paper, Reaching Out: Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia, Doctors of BC seeks to raise awareness about youth mental health by opening the dialogue among those affected, including youth, their families, and doctors as well as other health care providers.
Doctors are encouraged to initiate conversations about mental health with their transition aged patients, and to continue educating themselves about mental illness through workshops and programs available to them.
The paper also encourages youth to visit their family doctor if they are feeling depressed or anxious, as doctors are a good resource for mental as well as physical health issues.
Health Authorities and government are urged to promote the mental health resources available locally and to continue addressing capacity issues so that youth get the care when and where they need it.
Even though most mental illness in young people can be diagnosed and treated by their family doctor, not all youth will feel at ease in this situation. Many youth are comfortable accessing information online, so Doctors of BC developed an online portal, OpenMindBC.ca, to provide coordinated and streamlined access to already existing mental health resources specifically for youth and their friends and families, doctors, teachers, and other stakeholders.
Youth who feel they would like access to mental health information, should be able to do so easily. As well, doctors, educators, friends and family can all be part of a strong system of support to help youth deal with mental health issues, which in turn will lead to a better quality of life.
For further reading:
Addressing youth mental health key to tackling suicide prevention - The Globe and Mail, September 9, 2014
Docs want mental health help for you - 24 Hours Vancouver, September 16, 2014
Managing your own emotional well being - Tri-Cities Now, September 17, 2014