Many teenagers in Quebec have been suffering from significant psychological distress since the pandemic, and the Fondation Jeunes en tête’s workshop on mental health for 14-18 year olds has been very well received in classrooms across the province.
There was a time when hearing about depression, mental illness, and anxiety in a high school class would have elicited very different responses.
The taboo seems to have disappeared and several teenagers are ready to talk about it.
The Journal was able to see it on December 14 at the Académie Saint-Louis in Quebec.
The foundation’s flagship workshop has existed for more than 20 years, but today it has a special meaning. Silence becomes more difficult when it comes to suicidal thoughts.
“More need than before”
“The impact is real because young people come to us after the workshops and we give them the resources. I think there are fewer taboos. Young people are more aware of the phenomenon, but figures show that the situation has worsened. There is more need than before,” explains hostess Juliane Sickini.
His colleague agrees. “There was a mental illness in my family that affected me. In our statistics, after COVID, we observed that every second young person showed symptoms,” adds Séraphin Bassas.
Together the duo gives the workshop up to 15 times a week. They want to belittle without being alarmist.
For Thomas Lebel, who has stayed with 18 host families, breaking the taboo is essential. “It was the first time I told my story at the Mayor’s Ball. For a long time, it was taboo for me to talk about mental health. It makes you vulnerable in the eyes of people and that takes a lot of pride. This class says it’s healthy to talk about it,” the 19-year-old explained.
Emotions sometimes surface at the end of the period. ” Yes. I recognized myself, ”said one interviewed teenager, before turning his head and being unable to continue the discussion.
Obviously, the impact of the pandemic on young people is very present.
“Especially because it is difficult for young people to get psychological help. Unfortunately, I have the impression that things will take some time to stabilize,” says Isabelle Denis, a professor in Laval University’s School of Psychology and a clinical psychologist with children and adolescents.
In her opinion, young people have turned to social media and screens more than usual, which has probably contributed a lot to symptoms of anxiety and depression in young people, but also to symptoms of eating disorders.
“It has been documented,” adds Ms. Denis. The lack of social contacts and physical activity should not be neglected either.
The number of young people suffering from anxiety has been increasing in Quebec for 15 years, and drug prescription is increasing.
Waiting for a professional can also take several months.
►5 to 10% of adolescents suffer from depression during adolescence.
►50% of mental illnesses begin before the age of 14 and 75% before the age of 24.
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