Saskatchewan

Sask. student co-hosts online youth network to give teens a place to talk

Teen Talk Tuesday is a new online network for youth to meet and talk once a week.

Alexis Epp says she faced her own mental health struggles as a teenager

Alexis Epp is a student at Sask Polytechnic and one of the people behind the Teen Talk Tuesday network. (Submitted by Alexis Epp)

A Saskatchewan university student is trying to help teenagers cope with isolation, stress and other mental health problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We're just seeing a lot of uncertainty and really no where to turn," Alexis Epp said. 

Epp is studying youth care work at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. She's the co-creator of the online network Teen Talk Tuesday.

"[It's] an outlet for teens to join in from all across Canada and kind of share with other teens what they're going through and get out of that isolation a little bit," she said. 

Epp was inspired after her friend Laura Lawrence spoke at a youth symposium in Melfort, Sask., in 2019. Lawrence reached out and asked if Epp would spearhead this idea with her and the two have been working together since. 

We've heard a lot of good feedback that this is good because it gives them a safe outlet to speak and connect with other youth who are going through similar things.- Alexis Epp

The network has 19 youth taking part weekly so far from Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan. They have guest speakers each week, prize giveaways and discussions on a variety of topics.

"We let them speak their mind and ask questions if they need advice or just want somewhere to kind of vent about what they're going through," Epp said. "It's a safe space."

The youth talk about what is going on in the world and how they're feeling, she said. 

"We get a lot that they're missing their friends, they're missing their routine or they're just struggling," Epp said. 

"So we've heard a lot of good feedback that this is good because it gives them a safe outlet to speak and connect with other youth who are going through similar things."

With schools closed and limits to social gatherings, life looks very different for teenagers than it did just a few months ago. Now one post-secondary student is trying to help them cope - we'll hear about the teen talks she's organizing 5:38

Epp said she struggled with her mental health in high school and didn't have a place to turn to. She said she went through the health system but didn't know of any of the online resources available to people struggling. 

Now, she's connecting youth to each other and to any online mental health resources that she didn't know about when she was their age. 

"It feels really good. It also helps me heal and just reminds me of everything I've been through," Epp said. "So it's really empowering."

Anyone between 12 to 18 interested in getting involved can go to mindbodybalanced.ca and select Teen Talk Tuesday. The event is weekly and free for any youth to join. 

"If you're not comfortable with sharing in it, you don't have to," Epp said. "You can just sit and listen. It's for everyone and anyone."

With files from The Morning Edition

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