By: Fergus Allen
High school can be challenging for some—even rough or hard. This makes it all the more important that students be equipped with the tools to seek help if they need it.
“Highschoolers exist in such a pressure-cooker environment,” says Aayush Malhotra. “What I tell students is that it is a completely human thing to experience things such as depression, thoughts of suicide, and mental health struggles.”
Aayush is a long-standing volunteer with the Crisis Centre of BC’s youth programming and regularly leads the Self Care for Mental Health workshop in high schools around the region. The aim of the game is de-stigmatization—talking openly about mental health and encouraging help-seeking behaviour. “It’s completely natural to have days where you’re off. And on those days, there should be nothing standing in your way of getting support,” he says.
Fostering an awareness of the support networks available to youths is, in itself, an exercise in harm reduction, and shouldn’t be limited just to those ‘off’ days. There is, as Aayush explains, “no harm in knowing where to go and having self-care strategies you can implement when times get tough.” Simply knowing where to turn in the event of a crisis situation can prove all the difference.
Aayush is currently pursuing a Master in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia and, like many of us in the past year, has faced struggles with his own mental health. “I remember in the first term of this year I was having difficulty getting a few assignments in on time because of my mental health,” he says. “I was fortunate because my professors were all very understanding, asking me ‘Are you getting support?’”
He takes a thoughtful pause, then asks, “What about the student out there who don’t know? What if they can’t even name why suddenly they can’t get out of bed in the morning? Or, when they get asked ‘Are you getting support?’ they don’t know where to turn?”
Discussing one’s challenges openly isn’t always easy, and Aayush is quick to acknowledge this. “I usually liken it to going to the gym,” he explains, his kinesiology training showing. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get through a workout, but you feel good afterwards.”
Just as one shouldn’t go to the gym only when their physical health is in crisis, one shouldn’t wait until their mental health is in crisis to talk about it.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call:
- Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
- Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
- Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
- Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)
If you are an educator interested in learning more about our youth training programme, click here: https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/youthprograms/