August 18th, 2017     by Sheila Sampath     Issue 35: Issue 35: The Mental Health Issue     Comments

Illustration: Erin McPhee

In the fall of 2016, our Shameless Youth Advisory Board met at the centre for social innovation here in Toronto, and started to brainstorm story ideas for this issue. Sometimes our meetings are activity-based, and usually, they’re lively — this meeting was different; it was heavy, and it was real.

We were talking about mental health, and YAB members were full of personal observations, critical questions and deep insights. It was a conversation that spanned the intimately personal with the all-encompassing political, unknotting the intricate threads in-between. Like many important conversations, it was exhausting, and it lasted far beyond our short time together in that session. Parts of that conversation came back to me many times between then, and now. Not just when we were assembling the issue, but as I was navigating my own daily life, connecting with my community, and reflecting on my own formative years as a teenager. Mental health is something that is so rarely talked about, yet it underpins almost everything in our day-to-day.

Being a teen is hard work. While we’re figuring out who we are and who we want to be, we are navigating really complex systems, forming and cultivating our own communities, we are finding our voices and working hard to have them heard. On top of all that, we’re so often told that what we are feeling is “just a phase,” “dramatic,” or something we will “grow out of.” These messages contribute to stigma that further isolates, and ignores that our bodies and minds are so often battlegrounds for larger systems at play.

This issue of Shameless, our mental health issue, starts to unpack some of these complexities. In it, we explore community care (p.18), anxiety (p.13) and depression (p.34); we talk about the toll our healthcare (p.24), education (p.28) and colonialism (p.14) take on mental health and well-being and we offer ways to deal with stress (p. 7), building safer spaces (p. 16) and tools for self-care (p.33). Mostly though, through this issue, we attempt to hold space. If there is one thing we want you to take away from this issue it’s this: we see you.

As always, thank you for reading.

Yours Shamelessly,

Tags: mental health

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