Public health nurse Jen Barker and nurse practitioner Lisa Helegson.

Wellness Centre gives kids a place to turn

For the past several years, health professionals from the Agassiz Community Health Centre, has supported young people in this community.

  • May. 13, 2016 7:00 p.m.

For the past several years, the Youth Wellness Centre, staffed with health professionals from the Agassiz Community Health Centre, has supported young people in this community through counselling them about  issues  such as  nutrition, self-esteem, relationships, stress and anxiety, sexual health, and personal safety.

These issues are of major significance for today’s young people now as evidenced by the results of the May 2015, Kids Help Phone survey of 1300 teens from across Canada between the ages of 13 to 18.

A quick overview of some of the findings are:

  • Overall, about half of teens were quite worried about school – grades and homework.
  • After grades and homework, 42 per cent of teens reported that they were stressed out! As they age, their stresses continue to mount. As a consequence of this stress, teens tend not to be overwhelmingly happy or optimistic about the future.
  • A third of the teens reported that bullying – in its various types – is a large concern but the level of concern is dependent on how you slice the demographic. For example, younger teens had greater concerns with bullying than did older ones.
  • A significant number of teens had relationship concerns with family (25 per cent) and friends (27 per cent). However, younger teens reported more problems with friends than family but, as they age, the situation reverses.
  • Girls are twice as likely as boys to have body image issues.
  • Drug and alcohol addiction was also of some concern for young people, the number increasing slightly with age. (As an aside, 9% of young people in B.C. reported drug and addiction issues.)

The survey results also showed that 63% of younger teens confided in their mother; 35 per cent turned to dad and 55 per cent shared with their friends. But the statistics shift across life stages. Older teens tended to talk less with mom but more with a girlfriend or boyfriend.

Of critical importance is that of the teens surveyed, those who indicated they did not have anyone to confide in were twice as likely to experience issues related to violence at home, gender identity, suicidal thoughts and/or to experience emotional difficulties that could lead to more serious emotional or mental health problems.

With over two million young people in Canada, some 450,000 may be in need of counselling and they need to know that help is available.

The social issues and challenges confronting young people today are very different from what previous generations ever experienced.

As they face this critical period in their development, it is essential for parents to find ways to help and support the young person in the family. But, sometimes, for one reason or another, a young person might be more comfortable talking with someone outside his or her immediate circle of family or friends.

For this reason, a place where young people can drop in to talk confidentially about their concerns is at the VYC Wellness Centre located in the Agassiz Harrison Community Services building, 7086 Cheam Avenue.

Starting on 18 May, the VYC Wellness Centre will be open on Wednesdays from 1:30 to 4:30 and staffed by professionals from public health, mental health and a nurse practitioner.  In addition to the drop-in at the VYC Wellness Centre, information may be obtained by calling 604-701-3320.

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