Seven million Canadians — 20 percent of the population — live with mental illness.
A large number of those have said their symptoms started in childhood.
When Summerland Secondary School student, Catie Shaw learned that May 7 was National Child and Youth Mental Health Day, she set about planning an event at her school to help raise awareness.
“I started planning and asking different teachers for support and trying to find different speakers to come in,” she said.
Three speakers came from outside the school.
Rochelle Henbury did a session on music and how it helps to relieve stress. Rylee McKinlay held a tea and talk session and Dr. Cathi Shaw talked about how to stay mentally healthy when transitioning to university after graduation.
Teachers from within the school held workshops on yoga, journaling and theatre relaxation.
There were also physical options offered such as basketball and ultimate Frisbee.
The students were given the choices available and then allowed to choose which ones appealed most to them.
One group of students choose to climb Giant’s Head Mountain.
“Mental illness is mostly an invisible disability. When you look at someone you can’t see it. The goal of the day wasn’t really just to focus on mental illness and how to fight the stigma against it, but also just for mental wellness in general,” said Shaw.
“Everyone gets sad sometimes, so to find ways to cope and to think positive as much as we can, that is what I was trying to accomplish.”
Shaw is already looking forward to planning another such event, provided she has the schools support.
“I think I’m going to try and do it again next year and I’ll have a lot more time to plan it. I’ll be able to have an assembly at the start, to get everyone excited and maybe have a couple of more options for kids to go to and maybe have a guest speaker.”
In regards to the success of this year’s event , Shaw thinks it went well.
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.