Ottawa, we need to pay more attention to some serious stuff going on – communities around Canada are in crisis and suicide rates among youth are on the rise. Several of these areas have recently declared a state of emergency in relation to serious and prolonged mental health concerns of their members, and youth are often the most affected. For example, the First Nations Regional Health Survey cites that 22% of Aboriginal individuals have suicidal ideation. There’s currently an Indiegogo Campaign, initiated by experts in youth and mental health from The Terrace Wellness Group. They’re raising funds in order to launch an app that will link youth needing mental health support with a registered therapist. I may not be an expert in the field, but I am practiced when it comes to my own mental health because I, too, have struggled as a youth as well as in my adult life with mental health adversities.

MY STORY IN A NUTSHELL

In hindsight, I now know that I came into this world, twenty-eight years ago, with an anxious personality. As a child I exhibited some classic symptoms of separation anxiety, having fears leaving my parents and having high levels of stress and anxiety when I was apart from them. I also showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder, with ritualistic behavior that, if not completed, would elicit apprehension and fear. At that time, twenty years ago, mental health was definitely not at the same place as it is today, and as far as I know it wasn’t discussed, so my parents didn’t think my behaviours and actions could be a serious problem. Then, I hit adolescence like a brick wall, falling victim to a sexual assault. I didn’t disclose this trauma to any adult, so the experience hasn’t actually reached the emotional surface until recently. Throughout the next fifteen years my life became more and more out of control – I began drinking alcohol in large amounts at quite a young age, and subsequently lost interest in all of the hobbies that I used to have, like school, sports, reading, etc. Finally, when I reached the age of twenty-five, everything boiled over – there was just so much going on. To sum it up, I was having emotional regulation difficulties, tons of anxiety, depressive episodes, problems with prescription medication and alcohol, and suicide attempts. However, throughout the past five years, I’ve had a common law partner who has seen me through it all, who has been supportive, and who has completely accepted me for who I am. This unquestionably inspired me in many ways to become more self-aware, seek help, and take steps forward in making my life better for myself. So, in December 2015 I decided that I was going to stop drinking alcohol completely, and began tapering off of the benzodiazepines that I had been abusing. Once the fog had cleared and I started to feel a bit better, I really began my journey of healing. It’s not over by a long shot – mental illness is something that I’m probably going to have to live with for the rest of my life, but I’m acquiring the insight and tools to do so in a positive and healthy way. Right now, I’m still coming to terms with my past – I’m diving in and dealing with the sexual assault and continuing to work on repairing whatever wounds that have been haunting me. And then I’ll continue to push ahead. I’m forever a work in progress. But that’s okay.

SNAPCLARITY APP

WHAT?

With twenty years of experience behind them, and wanting to improve and revolutionize the way mental health care is delivered, Terrace Wellness Group has come up with an inventive application. It’s an app that makes therapy convenient and easily accessible when it’s needed the most. It’s an all-in-one experience that will provide ongoing mental health services that are so desperately needed for the affected person and their family.

WHERE?

Terrace Wellness Group plans to use snapclarity for youth empowerment in two at-risk communities in Canada. The first is the Aboriginal First Nations community in Cross Lake, Manitoba. The other is a community in Woodstock, Ontario. Both have made national headlines recently due to a suicide crisis that has already claimed the lives of way too many young people. So, the youth themselves and community leaders are desperate for additional resources and support for mental health services.

HOW?

A preloaded smartphone (app and data) with prepaid service for three months will be distributed to one hundred youth in these communities – fifty towards each. The goal is to have phones distributed ASAP, with thirty licenced counsellors from the Terrace Wellness Group team volunteering and ready to start as soon as they are needed. The app will match kids with the counsellors who can help by listening and giving them the coping skills that they require. They will have the ability to participate in an online chat with one of the professional therapists at any time, and health care professionals within the communities will have access to the experts as well.

WHY?

Terrace Wellness Group hopes to reduce suicide rates and provide faster interventions before a crisis. The indidegogo campaign has a financial goal of $25,000 and so far only a minimal amount has been raised. They need YOUR help in order to make an immediate impact, empower youth, and decrease the stigma associated with mental health. Your donation of simply $1.00 or more will contribute to this viable solution.

The World Health Organization cites that one in four people will suffer from some sort of mental health issue at one point in their lives. It’s a problem that isn’t visible, so although we’ve made strides in terms of acceptance, there still does exist some stigma and discrimination. But, the illness exists. It is real. And it sucks. I have experienced the highs and the lows and a lot in between. I feel that I’m self-aware and have accepted my illness. I am able to search for community resources and I have a great support system. My mental health is improving. That’s why I advocate for this – I have been there, I have struggled, and I have improved. I want others to know that they are not alone, and that there is always hope, no matter how hopeless and helpless you feel. If you can skip your coffee run for a day and donate that small amount, you will be making a huge difference in terms of mental health. You can help to change the world.

What are you waiting for?! Make your small (or large) donation here!