Supporting Youth Mental Health with the New Normal
May 27, 2020. Article by: Government of B.C.
If you are a parent or have a young person in your life, you have likely been navigating conversations about the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of May 18, B.C. has entered “Phase Two” of re-opening the province in a safe and healthy way. There are many changes coming during this time and things will look different than they did before the pandemic.
Part of this transition is that on June 1, parents have the choice to bring their children back to class on a part-time basis until the summer break at the end of June.
For some families, more feelings of uncertainty – including around a partial return to the classroom – may arise during this phase of changes. These shifts in every day life to the “new normal” are something that have never been encountered before.
With new transitions, it is natural for youth to feel stress, confusion, or anger about what is being asked of them. For students that may return part-time to school, there are now new expectations about how they will need to behave and the way they will learn at school.
Ways to support youth
- Communicate and check in often. Have regular open and honest conversations. They may be having feelings that change from day to day. Let them know you are there to talk if they have questions about what is happening. Whether they are continuing to learn from home or if they are going back to school, check in regularly on their emotional well-being. It’s OK not to be OK.
- Use reliable sources of information. Ensure what your family learns is fact, not fear-based. Find accurate information on B.C’s Restart Plan and use these resources to support youth when talking about COVID-19.
- Calm theirs fears. Youth may feel concerned about the future. Everyone has questions about what life will look like for them. Model ways to deal with stress and anxiety at home and help them manage their emotions. If you are worried they might be using substances, open and judgement free conversations can go a long way to help them make safer choices. Find guidance for families on substance use and young people.
Mental health support for youth
If a young person in your life is struggling with their mental health right now, there are resources that are available. Reach out for help.
Free counselling and health services
- Find intake clinics to speak to a counsellor.
- Access virtual walk-in counselling, through Foundry. Peer support, primary care and family support is available over voice calls, video and chat, for young people ages 12-24 and their families.
- Call 8-1-1 to speak to a nurse about health advice.
Free text, phone, and web services
- Call 1-778-763-0177 (6pm-midnight) for emotional support through YouthSpace.ca.
- Text CONNECT to 686868 or web chat online, for youth counselling through Kids Help Phone.
- Call Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310 or web online chat, for 24/7 counselling and crisis intervention for Indigenous people. Available in French, English, Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut.
- Call 1-866-999-1514 for resources and support for gender creative, trans or questioning children and youth, through Trans Care BC.
- QCHAT: A peer support line through phone, text or online chat services and resource database for LGBTQ2S+ youth in B.C.
- Mental Health Digital Hub: A provincial website that provides information, services, and education and awareness about mental health and substance use for adults, youth and children.
- Y Mind: Young people 13-30 can sign up for 6-7-week programs online to help cope with stress, worry and anxiety.
- Keep Learning: Website for parents and caregivers who continue to keep their kids home from school.
Crisis and help lines
- Call Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre at 1-800-SUICIDE if you or someone you know is experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including thoughts of suicide.
- Call 310-6789 (no area code needed) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health.
- Call the KUU-US Crisis Response Service at 1-800-588-8717 for culturally-aware crisis support for Indigenous people in B.C.
- Call the Metis Crisis Line at 1-833-638-4722 for 24/7 mental health support, including crisis intervention and access to crisis programs for Metis people.
- Free web chat through YouthInBC.