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BC youth take action at mental health summits to end stigma

Vancouver - High school students and educators across BC are changing how youth think and talk about mental health in the fifth annual Balancing Our Minds summits.
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​Today’s event brings more than 250 students and 40 educators from 18 Vancouver schools together at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School.  

"I want to thank the students behind this summit from the bottom of my heart for breaking down the walls of silence to talk about mental health," said Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. "We know that it's crucial to intervene early when someone is experiencing mental health challenges, and I applaud these students for helping to create a space so that their peers have access to support when they need it."

The free, one-day summits are led by youth, for youth to talk about mental health, decrease stigma and connect people to community resources. Joshua Ramos and Stephanie Barrantes, two students from David Thompson Secondary, are members of the Balancing Our Minds Vancouver summit planning committee, and are speaking at today's event.

"Mental health affects everyone in some way. We are all likely to know someone who has experienced a mental health challenge, but stigma can still stop someone from reaching out for help," said Joshua. "We are excited to bring the summit to students in Vancouver to normalize conversations around mental health and make change in our communities."

Vancouver students will share their personal mental health and wellness experiences and participate in workshops on topics such as anxiety, substance use, eating for wellness, self-care and more. Local organizations will also be on hand to speak with students about available healthy-living tools and resources.  

"Balancing Our Minds is an important youth-led initiative that empowers young people to talk about mental health in a safe and supportive environment," said Michelle Cianfrone, a BC Children's Hospital Health Literacy representative. "It's important to have spaces for young people to connect, learn and find resources in their communities and to discover what they can do locally to support mental health and wellness."

Three summits have already taken place in Ashcroft, Kitimat and Tofino. The last summit will take place on May 7, 2018, on the Sunshine Coast. The summits are an initiative of BC Children's Hospital, supported by the Canucks for Kids Fund.

"It is encouraging to see so many passionate students and educators participating in today's summit and taking action toward this shared goal," said BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming. "By working together we can make tremendous gains in ensuring all students in B.C. schools feel safe, healthy and supported, so they are able to focus on learning and can reach their full potentials."

Quick Facts:

  • The Balancing Our Minds summits began in Vancouver and have attracted more than 1,000 annually since its inception in 2014.
  • The event was inspired by the idea that an important first step in changing how mental health is discussed and perceived is to bring together youth and educators from across the province to share ideas on how to better promote mental health and wellness.
  • Nearly 13 per cent of children and youth between the ages of 4 and 17 in BC experience clinically significant mental disorders at any given time. That is a total of 84,000 children, or three to four students in a classroom of 30.
  • More than 16,500 visits to BC Children's Hospital were made by children and youth with existing and emerging mental health problems. 
  • Approximately 4,000 children and youth sought treatment for psychiatric issues through the hospital.
  • More than 300 children and youth were admitted to inpatient units at the hospital.
  • More than 195,000 children, youth and families visited the BC Children's Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre website to access resources and information in 2016-17. 
Learn More:
BC Children's Hospital, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority provides expert care for the province's most seriously ill or injured children, youth and young adults, including newborns. Child and Youth Mental Health provides a diverse range of specialized and one-of-a-kind tertiary mental health and concurrent disorders services for children, adolescents and young adults across the province. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @BCChildrensHosp.

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @PHSAofBC.


 Media Contact:

Heather Puzzella
Communications Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority
Media line 778.867.7472

BC Children's Hospital; anxiety; addiction
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