PROFILE — Alberta teen runs mental health magazine

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-03-18 06:30

Sophia Lia attracted 100K Instagram followers after 3 issues

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Sophia Lia


Red Deer, Alberta



Claim to fame

It took a pandemic to push Sophia to launch a creative project — and hopefully help other teens at the same time.

On Aug. 1, 2020, she launched a mental health magazine called Sophia Lia.

“It was kind of like the breaking point. Everyone had had enough,” Sophia told CBC Kids News.

“I thought if I could create something where it's like a one-stop-shop for teens, where they can learn about mental health, they can share what they've been through, they can seek professional help, they can talk to other teens ... I thought that would be super helpful.”

Now, three issues into the project, Sophia Lia Mag has 100,000 followers on Instagram, a glossy website and a number of celebrity endorsements by people like Grammy award-winning musician k.d. lang and Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser.

Instagram post by sophialiamag shows third edition cover.

Both serious and inspiring

The magazine is free to read online. It’s also printed on demand for those who are willing to pay the printing costs.

Each issue includes conversations about heavy topics like mental illness, depression, anxiety and addiction.

The magazine also features conversations with inspiring people, such as Heartland actor Alisha Newton, TikToker Spencer Barbosa and U.S. surfer Bethany Hamilton.

Sophia said she learned the power of positivity after dealing with ongoing health problems as a kid.

“My mindset was so negative and my self-talk was very negative. I was always putting myself down,” Sophia said.

“Honestly, I made myself more sick than I actually was just by doing that.”

Side by side images of covers for issues one and two.

Issue one, left, featured an interview with U.S. surfer Bethany Hamilton on recovering from a shark attack. Issue two, right, focussed on body positivity with Canadian TikToker Spencer Barbosa. (Image credit: Sophialiamag/Instagram)

Feeling hopeful

Sophia said she hopes to study psychology one day.

In the meantime, she said getting messages from readers who say the magazine inspired them to get professional help with their mental health, is “the most rewarding part.”

Sophia said the experience has made her feel hopeful.

“People are feeling less ashamed to say, ‘hey, I'm seeing [a] psychologist,’” she said. “I think the stigma is slowly breaking.”

#HowItFelt series coming up!

Be sure to visit the week of March 22-26 for our mental health series #HowItFelt.

Each day that week, we’ll have a story about a Canadian kid who tried a different mental health strategy, from calling a hotline to disconnecting from screens.

Be sure to check it out.

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Natalia Fumagalli

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