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Youth summit highlights Enoch Cree Nation focus on mental health

Enoch Cree Nation is focusing on mental health issues within its community and a recent youth summit is one step toward that goal.

'You're never too young to go through anxiety and depression'

One of the four groups of youth from Enoch Cree Nation discuss mental health issues at the River Cree Resort on Monday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Enoch Cree Nation is focusing on mental health issues within its community and a recent youth summit is a step toward that goal. 

Close to a hundred youth from the Enoch Cree Nation met on Monday to speak openly about mental health issues and how they can encourage others to get help.

Headstrong, an anti-stigma initiative created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), hosted the youth from Enoch at the River Cree Resort.

The youth heard personal stories from Enoch-raised former Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull, worked in groups discussing mental health stigma, and designed ways to use what they learned in their community.

Headstrong, a youth mental health summit, encourages teens from the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton to speak openly about mental health issues. 1:07

Ayanna McDonald, 12, says she isn't too young to spot mental health issues and to speak openly about it with others. Her sister took her own life, and because of that tragic experience she wants to encourage others to speak about their issues.

"I kind of know now to watch out more than I did before,"  McDonald said. "Thoughts and overthinking can take over, and the next thing you know you've done something you can't take back.

"You're never too young to go through anxiety and depression. Everyone goes through it at different times."

Mikah Morin, 16, wants to find a way to support people in her community while being sensitive to their issues.

"I know a lot of people in my family who suffer with mental health and I feel like a lot of people don't know how to help," Morin said.

Jacqueline Bruno, a registered psychiatric nurse of the Enoch Health Centre, helped to organize the summit.

"Why not start young and get the kids talking about it and really for them to recognize symptoms in themselves?" Bruno said.

Mental health is a mandate of Enoch's chief and council, she said. The hiring of her position at the Enoch Health Centre, along with mental health awareness campaigns and an outreach team, are examples, she added.

We're taking the steps in the right direction- Jacqueline Bruno

"Are we there yet? No, but we're taking the steps in the right direction," said Bruno. "There's still a long way to go and it's going to be ongoing."

@Travismcewancbc

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

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