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Health Policy

Reaching Out: Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia

September 12, 2014

Maintaining good mental health is important for everyone. Mental health affects all aspects of our lives, including our relationships with family and friends, our capacity to deal with the pressures of life, and our ability to contribute to society. Doctors of BC has identified the transition from adolescence to adulthood as being critical in terms of mental health development, and considers it particularly important that transition-age youth (15-24 years) are supported in understanding mental health and recognizing mental illness.

The policy paper, Reaching Out: Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia, was developed by the Doctors of BC’s Council on Health Promotion. It contains a number of commitments and recommendations which support Doctors of BC’s policy of raising awareness in three areas: youth mental health, how to recognize mental illness, and where to get help when it is needed. Commitments made by Doctors of BC include:  

  1. Creating and promoting a web site information hub to raise awareness of existing mental health tools and resources available to transition-age youth and their families, physicians, teachers, and peers.
  2. Raising awareness of the role that physicians can play, alongside other health care providers, in addressing the mental health needs of transition-age youth patients.
  3. Encouraging physicians to initiate conversations about mental health with their transition-age youth patients to increase awareness of the role that physicians can play in addressing mental health concerns. 

Doctors of BC recognizes that family physicians are just part of the solution in terms of raising awareness about mental health and assisting with mental health concerns. Family physicians work alongside a range of mental health providers, including counsellors, psychologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists, youth workers, and others. Not all transition-age youth will choose to speak to their family physician about their mental health concerns, but it is important that youth are aware of the range of resources available and have access to information about mental health that is tailored to their needs. Doctors of BC has already delivered on the first of its commitments in the paper by creating OpenMindBC.ca – a web site information hub that provides access to an abundance of excellent tools and resources developed by a range of mental health organizations in BC and across Canada. 

For the full policy paper, please see “Reaching Out: Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia”.