Healthy Living in the North

Youth speak out about mental health

One of the graphics used during the Youth Mental Health campaign. This one says, "How do you take care of your mental health?" There is a silhouette of the side view of a head with a plant growing in it.

We asked youth how they take care of their mental health, and they gave us thoughtful, practical, and useful tips.

We asked — you delivered! During our recent Youth Mental Health campaign (held on Northern Health’s Facebook and Instagram accounts), youth and those who care for them followed along and engaged with energy and enthusiasm. We want to share some of the great ways people are taking care of their mental health. Thanks to all who participated!

Your comments – here’s what you said about how you take care of your mental health:

Communicating

“Communicating how I’m feeling – the good, the not so good, and the downright difficult.”

“Journaling, talking, finding a therapist, daily logs.”

“Reaching out when I know it’s necessary, so I don’t stagnate in a depressed state.”

“Talk to someone – so I don’t feel alone.”

“Express myself and my emotions.”

Goal-setting and planning ahead

“Meet your obligations – regardless of how you feel.”

“I always make it to work and school on time every day. Seems small, but it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something small every day.”

“Keeping a list of daily to-do tasks (and check them off): showers, medication, guitar, stretching.”

“Plan what I’m going to do after class, and build a routine that works for you!”

Connecting – to people, culture, nature, and animals

“Spend time with goofy people in my life, or people who are generally happy makes me feel better in the long run too.”

“Spending time with dogs — walking them brings them joy which makes me feel good. The exercise also boosts my mood even though it’s not something I like doing.”

“Keep family and friends around who I can talk with honestly and will be open with me. FaceTime, call, visit – connect however you like, but please reach out.”

“Connect to culture, pray or help those in need.”

“Having an amazing social support network that I am an equally supportive person to my friends too.”

Self-Care  

“Not put everyone else before myself. No matter how much you love your peers, you are your number one priority.”

“Make a conscious effort not to isolate.”

“Listen to your mind, body, and heart – if you feel overwhelmed or stressed, respect that or take a break if things are frustrating.”

“Look at my scars and credit myself for what I have gone through and survived. I didn’t give up and it was the best decision I ever made because I would have missed out on the best year of my life so far.”

“Validate my own feelings. What I’m feeling in the moment doesn’t define the entirety of my life or being. It’s not realistic to be happy all the time.”

“SLEEP!”

Invite activity into your day!

“Going to the gym. Exercise keeps me focused, happy and healthy. When I have a stressful day or feel pressure from university, I head to the gym to sweat it out.”

“Stretching, yoga, meditation, team sports – it all helps.”

“Listen to calming music, practice gratitude, draw, read, write, go for a drive, take a bath.”

“Get a new hobby.”

“Cleaning and organizing (a drawer, bathroom, inside of car).”

Treatment/Recovery Work

“Visiting my psychiatrist, therapist, clinician regularly.”

“Mood tracking and keeping thoughts positive.”

“Sticking to my recovery plan (medication regime, activity, sleep, social connections).”

“Taking my medication at a designated time every day to make sure I don’t forget.”

“Keep a journal or notebook so I can keep track of symptoms and possible triggers.”

“Be aware of mood and warning signs of relapse so I am able to take a step back and use some of my tools before it gets worse.”

Other bits of wisdom:

“Different things work for different people.”

“Remember that other people care.”

“Spend time with people who uplift you.”

“Over the years, I’ve tried everything to “fix” myself. I have changed my perspective and realized I don’t need fixing. I was just sick, but not in a way that is easy to diagnose or explain to a friend. After I accepted my mental illness, I retried some of the strategies such as journaling, being more active whether that be walking my dog or going to the gym, eating better and sticking to a routine.”

“Limit screen time.”

The campaign’s toolkit can be found on our website.

Stacie Weich

About Stacie Weich

Stacie Weich is the Regional Mental Wellness and Prevention of Substance Harms Lead for Northern Health’s Population Health team. A passion for people and wellness has driven her to pursue a career in mental health and substance use. The first 10 years of her career were spent at a non-profit in Quesnel. Shen then moved to Prince George to join Northern Health in 2008. Stacie has fulfilled many roles under the mental health and substance use umbrella since then (EPI, ED, NYTC, COAST, AADP, YCOS). In her off time Stacie enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs, and other family and friends in beautiful northern BC!

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The most ~wonderful/stressful/jam-packed/crazy~ time of the year.

Tinsel, lights, snowmen, dinner, dishes, regular family, extra family, cold weather, sick kids, no school, tree, decorating, stockings, baking, thinking of presents, buying presents, wrapping presents…

“Holy S…anta Claus. Mom, how do you do this every year?”

I may have prefaced Santa with a few other adjectives when my mom, who I think I should start calling Saint Diana, began to list some of the challenges the holiday season typically brings for her. My poor mom. After hearing that, I couldn’t help but feel bad. This pressure to create the perfect occasion for so many people – no one person should have to bear that weight, whether it’s your mom, dad, you, or anyone!

Is it the most wonderful time of the year? It can be! But with the expectation and anticipation of a magical holiday comes a whole lot of work and stress. We have to remember that one of the big goals for this time of year should be to enjoy the company of family and friends.

This holiday season, let’s make sure we’re all doing our part to create a less stressed experience for all. Here are a couple easy ways to balance the cheer.

Family members at a pier on the ocean.

Plan ahead. If you’re hosting, keep it simple. Try menus you can make ahead of time or at least partially prepare and freeze. Decorate, cook, shop, or do whatever’s on your list in advance (yes, I know, easier said than done). If you’re visiting (or supporting your guests) and drinking alcohol, consider a plan for getting home safely at the end of the festivities – many communities offer special holiday transportation services and/or free ride programs like Operation Red Nose in Prince George.

Organize and delegate. Rather than one person cooking the whole family meal, invite guests to bring a dish.Kids can help with gift-wrapping, decorating, and baking. If you see one person rushing to do everything, that’s an opportunity to lend a hand.

Practice mindful eating and drinking. It’s no secret that the holidays expose us to an abundance of delicious food and drinks. Eating‘one more cookie’ or sipping on ‘one more drink’ are normal parts of holidaying, but be mindful of how your body is feeling. You can help maintain your regular sense of well-being by eating regular meals and snacks and engaging in fun physical activity. It’s a great time of year to combine indoor treats with outdoor experiences like snowman-building or skating!  

Stay within budget. Finances are a huge source of stress for many people. Do yourself a favour: set a budget and stay within it. It’s the time you spend, not the money, that really matters.

Remember what the holiday season is about for you. Make this your priority. Whether it’s the holiday advertising that creates a picture that the holidays are about shiny new toys, always-happy families, and gift giving, remember that this season is really about sharing, loving, and time spent with family and loved ones. No two families are alike, so develop your own inexpensive but meaningful family traditions. Also, remember not to take things too seriously. Find fun or silly things to do, play games, catch up on your favourite Netflix show, play with pets, spend time alone or with friends – all of these are good ways to reduce stress.

Connect with your community. Attend diverse cultural events with family and friends. Help out at a local food bank or another community organization. This is a time of year where you can truly leave a positive impact.

Soon, I’ll be flying out to see my family for the holidays.I know as soon as I get off the flight, Mom is going to be there, and she’ll want to make this another trip for the books. I’m sure it’s going to be the case, but because my sister and I are going to pitch in and help make it happen! I encourage everyone to do the same for the Saint Diana in their family.

Happy Holidays!

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