Friday, April 13, 2012

Mental Health in BC: Statistics, Information & How to Get Help

As a social worker who works with children, youth and adults the issue of mental health and wellness is close to my heart. Early identification, assessment and treatment are the keys to helping people escape worse problems and deteriorating mental health. Untreated mental health does not usually get better without intervention and the earlier the better.

A big part of finding help is openly acknowledging something is happening with a loved one, finding out what resources are available and how to access help. Here is more information that may assist you, or others.

There is reason to have hope, most people who experience mental health challenges can recover and lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives with support and treatment.

Statistics & Stories
  • 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem this year1.
  • 18% of adolescents (aged 15-24) report having a mental illness or substance abuse problem2.
  • About 26% of employees suffer from depression3
  • 1.6 Canadians are not diagnosed
  • 70% of mental health problems begin in childhood or adolescence
  • 87% who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental illness
From the Not Myself Today Campaign from Partners for Mental Health

Suicide rates among Canadian girls rising
Vancouver Sun, April 2, 2012.

Suicide rates for girls aged 10 to 14 increased 50 per cent, from 0.6 per 100,000 in 1980, to 0.9 per 100,000 in 2008. And among girls aged 15 to 19, the rate nearly doubled — from 3.7 to 6.2 per 100,000 during the same period.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death — after unintentional injuries such as car crashes — among young Canadians aged 10 to 19; in 2008, there were 233 suicides among 10- to 19-year olds, accounting for 20.4 per cent of all deaths for that age group.

Mood Disorders Society of Canada - 1.2 million children and youth aged 15-24 are impacted by mental illness.

Georgia Straight, April 10, 2012


Screening for Mental Health concerns

UBC researcher offers a simple step to identify anxiety in children:  

Awareness can prevent later problems in life such as depression, drinking or smoking 

“Is your child more shy, anxious or worried than other children his or her age?” 

Parents who answer yes can begin immediately to teach their children the skills they will need to manage the anxiety, rather than waiting for a clinical diagnosis.  

Helping young people identify and understand mental distress they may be experiencing and link them to sources of help that will enable them to learn skills and strategies to manage these problems. 

Warning signs of suicide 

A person who is at risk of committing suicide usually shows signs - whether consciously or unconsciously - that something is wrong. Keep an eye out for:

  • signs of clinical depression
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • sadness and hopelessness
  • lack of interest in previous activities, or in what is going on around them
  • physical changes, such as lack of energy, different sleep patterns, change in weight or appetite
  • loss of self-esteem, negative comments about self-worth
  • bringing up death or suicide in discussions or in writing
  • previous suicide attempts
  • getting personal affairs in order, such as giving away possessions, or having a pressing interest in personal wills or life insurance

How to Get Help? 


Go to your family doctor, or GP, or even a walk-in clinic, or take your child, or teen. Request a referral to your local mental health team, or Child & Youth Mental Health. 


Go to your local hospital emergency and tell them you, or your loved one needs help.


Find a counsellor in the community to talk about the things that are bothering you, or take your children to a counsellor.   


In Crisis: 

  • 24/7 Distress Phone Service - 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • Call  310-6789 (no area code needed) - available throughout British Columbia.
Youth in BC is an online resource where youth in distress can:
  • Get help by having a real-time online chat with a trained volunteer. Available from noon to 1am every day.
  • Get email support from the Crisis Centre’s professional staff by emailing:
Kids Help Phone - 1-800-668-6868
  • A toll-free, 24-hour, confidential and anonymous phone counselling, web counselling and referral service for young people ages 20 and under.

1 comment:

Sonja Dupor said...

Thank you for this post. I have suffered from mental health issues since I was 16 and navigating the BC health care system is a pain. Just trying to get help was so difficult and encumbering that had i not been so determined to help myself, I don't know whether I would even be here today.