Out in the Open·Full Episode

Youth Mental Health

From geographic location to social place, this week Piya speaks with young people across Canada about how where they are affects their mental health.
Alex San Diego during middle school. Cyberbullying triggered mental health issues that lasted into her university years. (Submitted by Alex San Diego)

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, up to 20 per cent of our country's youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder. And only about a fifth of those children who need mental health services actually get them. This week, Piya speaks with young people across Canada about how their geographic and social locations affect their mental health.

Here are the stories from this week's episode:

'We're taking back who we are as people': Fighting for better mental health among Indigenous youth

Linnea Dick was sexually abused as a child, which later fueled battles with alcoholism, eating disorders and depression. She speaks with Piya about the causes and effects of mental health issues among Indigenous youth, how she got better, and what she is doing to help a new generation achieve a happier and more meaningful life.

The stigma around mental health is hard to overcome when you live in a small town

Emma McCann is from Sarnia, Ontario, which has a population just over 70,000 people. While growing up, she struggled with mental health issues. She says that the ongoing stigma around mental illness -- or even just asking for help for psychological, emotional or family issues -- can be more acute in a smaller place, where a lack of privacy can act as a barrier.

Cyberbullying hurt her mental health, so now she's teaching kids and parents alike how to stop it

The internet began as a safe space for Alex San Diego, where she could learn more about her interests and connect with others who shared them. But then when she was in middle school, she was cyberbullied on social media. She tells Piya that instead of monitoring online conduct, adults should be encouraging young people to talk openly about mental health.

Teaching kids about mental health where you're most likely to find them — the classroom

The Mental Health and High School Curriculum Guide has brought mental health education to schools in provinces across Canada. We drop in on Sutherland Secondary School in North Vancouver, BC to hear what students and teachers are taking away from this classroom-based approach to confronting youth mental health issues.

How precarious housing can make mental health challenges worse

Mark Cherrington is a youth worker in Edmonton. The teens and preteens he supports are often either homeless or have precarious housing. Mark took us along during his work with the Edmonton Coalition for Human Rights and Justice to hear how he helps tackle mental health issues among these youth, and to meet one person he works with to discuss the difficulty of accessing services meant to support him.

Why one woman had to leave her religious community to get treatment for buried childhood trauma

While one woman was growing up in a rural, isolated, religious community, she was sexually abused. But she says she didn't get the mental health care she needed at the time, in part because of where she was raised. She speaks with Piya about how it wasn't until she became an adult and left her community that the consequences of that unaddressed trauma took hold.