January 11, 2023 4:00am
Young people struggling with their mental health are gaining another avenue to get help, and it’s free.
The federal government announced Tuesday that it is investing $7 million to help the YMCA scale up and expand its Y Mind and Mind Medicine programs across the country. The programs are aimed at people aged 13 to 30 with mild to moderate anxiety or depression.
Director of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver and lead behind the programs, Samantha Hartley-Folz, said creating a sense of belonging to key.
“It’s bringing youth together to hear ‘oh I feel anxious!’ ‘oh I do too!’ and it’s that group coming together that does almost as much as the curriculum that we present to those youth over the seven weeks of the program,” explained Hartley-Folz.
MP Marci Ien, the minister for women and gender equality and youth, was at Tuesday’s announcement and praised those delivering the programs for their efforts.
“I am telling you right now that this is not an exaggeration when I say that your work keeps communities strong and is literally saving lives,” Ien said.
While the program will not be available in-person at all Southwestern Ontario Y’s, youth are able to participate online and can travel to larger centres to participate. It is free for youth to access the seven week program.
A statement released Tuesday explained that Y Mind introduces youth to “evidence-based tools and connects them with peers and experienced professionals.” Mind Medicine is an adapted version of Y Mind developed specifically for Indigenous young people.
“Young people, especially in the wake of COVID-19, are dealing with issues related to mental health and wellness unlike we’ve seen before, really,” said Ien