Newcomer youth have specific challenges when it comes to mental health. And as of next month, they'll hear those challenges reflected in a new Hamilton radio show.
Starting Nov. 5, a group of five staff and volunteers from the NGen Youth Centre will broadcast Revolutionary Lives at 93.3 CFMU.
The group, many of them refugees or children of refugees, will present spoken word, interviews and other segments to address the issue with Hamilton listeners.
Mental Health 101: Youth and the Hidden Crisis in Our Community
Where: McIntyre Performing Arts Centre, Mohawk College
When: Oct. 24, doors open at 7 p.m., town hall session from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
The event will also be streamed live at cbc.ca/mentalhealth101. You can also read the rest of the stories in our series there.
"It will help youth feel that someone else has had the same experiences and overcome them," said Amr Abdel, 19, a Palestine native who moved here from Jordan. "We'll show that this is what they've done. This is how they've moved forward."
The project was spearheaded by Don Mahleka, a 23-year-old operations manager of the youth centre who moved here as a refugee from Zimbabwe.
Working at the former The Globe youth centre, which closed due to lack of funding in late 2010, Mahleka noticed how youth expressed themselves through art projects. They needed an outlet.
Mahleka approached Gonca Aydin, 18, a volunteer youth leader and native of Turkey. The radio group met earlier this year to plan the show and apply to CFMU.
Revolutionary Lives is for everyone who wants to listen to it, Mahleka said. But newcomer youth have specific challenges.
The concept of having mental health issues carries a stigma, particularly in some cultures more than others. And many refugee youth arrive here from intense situations, such as the political and economic turmoil in Mahleka's native Zimbabwe.
In some cultures, "mental health is somebody who is crazy and doesn't have any sense of what they're doing," he said. "Or they hear, 'You're fine. Just need to pick yourself up from your bootstraps.'"
The show will have "some broader themes with stigma, negotiating your self identity and finding your place in your community," said volunteer Tristan Raghunan, whose parents arrived in Hamilton as refugees.
"You can universalize them to appeal to youth in general, but there is a strong element of them in refugee youth."
Revolutionary Lives will air from 9:30 to 10 a.m. every Monday in November on 93.3 CFMU. The show will also be available on the CFMU website.
It will air through the month of November, and possibly beyond that, Aydin said.