SAYMH:Voices is an outreach project lead by some of the first ever SAYMH mental health ambassadors! They are on a mission to advocate for and improve the mental health of youth aged 13-18 in Calgary!
There is strong evidence that education, reducing stigma and early intervention are effective strategies to improve mental health outcomes. There is an urgent need to address South Asian youth mental health with primary prevention in a culturally competent and community informed lens. We want to enhance mental health knowledge, identify adolescents at risk and build a conduit between this community and existing mental health resources with a goal of achieving equity.
SAYMH:Voices is affiliated with the Alberta Medical Association, and the University of Calgary.
Check in With a South Asian Teen Campaign
Why should you check in with a South Asian teen?
Adolescence is a critical time for growth and development. It is also a period of high risk for emerging mental health disorders. There is strong evidence that education, reducing stigma and early intervention are effective strategies. In 2020, further declines in adolescent mental health have been labelled the “shadow pandemic” resulting from COVID19. Additionally, not all communities are impacted in the same way and South Asian youth are particularly vulnerable. There is an urgent need to address this issue with primary prevention in a culturally competent and community informed lens. We want to enhance adolescent mental health and wellness for Calgary’s South Asian youth community through the creation of a mental health awareness campaign and culturally appropriate mental health resources. We want to enhance mental health knowledge, identify adolescents at risk and build a conduit between this community and existing mental health resources with a goal of achieving equity.
What does it mean to check in with a South Asian teen?
Checking in can mean different things for everyone, however for the purposes of this campaign we are encouraging everyone, whether you are a parent, grandparent, friend, cousin or sibling to do SOMETHING, anything, to ask a South Asian teen how they are doing emotionally, physically and mentally. It can look like:
-Asking them how they feel overall.
-Asking how school is going.
-Asking how their mental health has been recently.
-Asking them if they feel happy with their social circle.
-Letting them know that if they ever need support that YOU are there for them.
How can you talk to a teen?
We know that it can be difficult to have tough conversations about mental health, but these conversations are necessary and important. There are a few things you can do to make this a little easier! Some examples include:
-Creating a safe and comfortable space to talk away from distractions.
-Starting the conversation slowly and gradually if you feel that they may not be receptive to you, you can start with asking how their day has been going, or what is new in their life!
-Stay calm and keep an open mind. Don’t let your own emotions and feelings get in the way
-Actively listen, let them talk. Even if it’s hard for you to relate, validate their feelings.
-Be nonjudgemental – mental illness and mental health are both real! Everyone experiences it differently and everyones experiences are valid!