Youth dealing with mental health and isolation during the pandemic
The pandemic has been hard on many of us, especially youth.
Anjolina Hamel, 19, is in her second year at the University of Ottawa, and so far it’s been tough.
"I felt alone," says Hamel. "Even though I had group chats and I had meetings online, it still didn’t feel like it was real life. Coming to university, I feel like it really hit me like a truck. Because my first year was online. My second year was online."
COVID-19 has forced many students to spend most of their time in front of a screen, stripping away the social aspect of life.
Hamel is sharing her story on Bell Let's Talk Day.
"I didn’t have the opportunities to go out and have a normal day-to-day life and have those normal things that you do in society," says Hamel.
Dr. Joanna Henderson is a senior scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health. She says it is more important now than it has ever been, for youth to speak out if they are having problems.
"Young people are even more negatively impacted by the pandemic than their adult counterparts," says Henderson. "And so at a time like this it’s especially important that we make time to have conversations about mental health. That we signal to our youth that we care, and that there are services available to provide support."
A company called 20today20tomorrow started by its founder and CEO, Drayton Mulindabigwi, is helping youth access those resources. They developed NFC stickers that grant them quick access to online tools.
"If you tap your phone over it, they allow you to access mental health resources," Mulindabigwi said. "That was kind of the goal. Getting mental health resources in the hands of youth in a way that’s efficient and creative and will make them kind of want to do it because it's like, whoa, this cool."
"To have those little stickers somewhere around campus, or somewhere around the city, it really helps to have that kind of accessibly and be like, 'Hey, I’m not feeling good today, I’m just going to tap my phone against that sticker' and there’s resources to help, depending on what I need," says Hamel.
For Hamel, she says dealing with mental health issues can be difficult, but taking it one day at a time is the key to success.
"Just to treat yourself with as much respect as you can and preserve your dignity and just be like, 'Hey, this is as much as I can do today and I’m proud of myself for doing that.'"