As mental health continues to be an important and popular topic in the media and popular culture, the staff in our Viewpoints program hope to continue connecting with youth in Airdrie to facilitate discussions about self-care and developing positive behaviours that support mental health.

Jodie Moffatt, Community Outreach Worker for Viewpoints, says that through the sessions she’s seen great progress with some of the youth who have been accessing the program over the past year.

One young teenager reached out for more help after attending a session focused on suicide. She had experienced the suicide of a close friend, and she couldn’t make sense of what had happened. She felt responsible, and wondered what she could have done differently to prevent it.

Jodie says the key message she tries to help youth understand when it comes to suicide is that it is never their fault. “You are responsible for your own actions and behaviour, but you are never responsible for how someone else reacts to that and what actions they take,” she says. “It is important for youth to be connected and know where to turn should they need assistance with their own thoughts of suicide or those of their friends.”

One such resource is the ConnecTeen line through the Distress Centre, a confidential peer support service for youth in Calgary and area.  They have a variety of ways for teens to connect such as phone (403-264-8336), text (587-333-2724) or live chat at calgaryconnecteen.com.

Participants of Viewpoints coloured pebbles with positive words and left them around the school yard to spread joy in an effort to promote positive mental health.

After this young girl reached out to her, Jodie connected her and her mom with additional resources and counselling, and she is now doing well and working hard to continue reaching out to her mom in times of need.

Jodie says having the ability to recognize when they need to reach out helps teens prevent crisis by addressing difficult feelings so they don’t become an obstacle they cannot overcome.

“It’s important to recognize that mental health is just like physical health. We all have it and we all need to take care of it. Viewpoints allows me to teach youth how they can take care of their mental health and recognize when it may be too much for them, and where to reach out,” she says.

She continues, “Through fun activities and real conversations, I am able to teach skills around coping and problem-solving, which help youth better recognize and deal with stressors in their lives. The most rewarding piece for me is watching the youth become leaders in mental health, where they are willing to talk with their friends and encourage positive mental health activities in their community.”

Currently, Viewpoints is offered in four schools in Airdrie, both in class and through more informal “Hallway Talk” sessions over lunchtime. Jodie also runs a social anxiety group called “Chill Zone” in collaboration with Alberta Health Services, where participants have the opportunity to learn about self-expression and slowly become more comfortable being around others.

For more information about Viewpoints, click here.

You can help ensure youth have the mental health resources and supports they need to stay on the path towards success. Click here to make a donation today.