Tips for youth to navigate mental health challenges


The aftermath of the daunting Covid-19 pandemic has brought several mental health concerns because of the isolation, loneliness, lack of support and diminished well-being.

A key demographic that sometimes gets overlooked is transitional aged youth (individuals generally between the ages of 16 and 25) who experience familial, cultural, and systemic struggles as they transition through the different stages of life. Access to mental health support for youth enhances mental health awareness, promotes well-being, provides an opportunity to share struggles, experiences and perspectives, while also suggesting coping mechanisms and self-care strategies, as a first step in alleviating stresses and struggles with mental health.

As a service provider to youth, particularly South Asian newcomer youth, Indus Community Services, a not-for-profit community benefit organization, has identified various gaps in service provision, and topics that youth wish to talk about and engage in, through conversations, programming and one-on-one interactions.

Key areas that youth struggle with include culture and stigma related to mental health, family dynamics (collectivist versus individualistic approaches) and perspectives, systemic discrimination within educational settings, lack of navigation around grief, loss and trauma, poor understanding of self-care as well as isolation and a decline in social skills and supports, amongst others, more recently because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Given these, here are a few tips to help youth navigate some of these struggles and access the appropriate resources:

1. Contact community support services that promote mental health awareness and explore topics that influence your understanding of mental health and well-being. This will give you an opportunity to talk about your own experiences and connect with other like-minded youth experiencing similar concerns. Knowing that you are not in this alone can be uplifting and validating and can encourage conversation and social interaction.

2. Connect with and educate yourself. This can be a great way in learning and understand what you might be experiencing. Every individual’s experience is different; however learning about your culture, and the stigma around mental health can provide you with clarity in terms of where your beliefs and core values lie. This will provide guidance towards a better understanding of your family dynamics and approaches, as well as encourage you to be more open and self-aware.

3. Accept support when it is offered. Knowing that it is okay to ask for support, and that supports in the community are available, can be a great first step towards change. Sharing emotions and experiences can be empowering, motivating, and energizing while offering alternate perspectives and rationale towards your experiences.

4. Engage in self-care. The importance of self-care cannot be stressed enough; partaking in hobbies and activities of interest can be holistically life changing. Self-care looks different for all, but some ideas include journaling, physical activity or a sport you enjoy, interacting with friends, healthy eating, music and creative arts, and so much more! Self-care is not selfish, so take what works for you and cater it towards your well-being.


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