Mental illness: Why Canada’s youth need our help

Clara Hughes is on Day 6 of her 110-day journey (Clara’s Big Ride) around Canada to raise awareness and erase


Clara Hughes is on Day 6 of her 110-day journey (Clara’s Big Ride) around Canada to raise awareness and erase the stigma of mental illness. We’re following along with the Bell Let’s Talk spokesperson and six-time Olympic medallist and to do our part, we’ll be blogging every Wednesday with the latest news on mental health.

Earlier this week, in a column for The Globe and Mail, Dr. Peter Szatmari wrote that our youth are in desperate need of a full mental-health checkup. As he reports, more than 20 percent of Canadian youth have a significant mental health problem. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, an estimated 1.2 million Canadian children and youth are dealing with mental illness’but less than 20 percent get the appropriate treatment.

Szatmari blames two things: 1) A lack of recognition of the symptoms and 2) Stigma. Educating ourselves about mental illness can help. Here are three ways to learn more and get involved:

Check out the #sharehowUfeel campaign
Three mental health agencies in Thunder Bay, Ont. are using social media to reach out with support. St. Joseph’s Care Group, the Children’s Centre and the Thunder Bay Counselling Centre have launched the #sharehowUfeel campaign to encourage teens to share how they feel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

‘ Join The Jack Ride
Hosted by The Jack Project, this charity ride supports youth mental health. Visit to register. (The Jack Project was founded in 2010 to honour Jack Windeler, a student at Queen’s University who died by suicide. Check out the video below for a moving TEDx Talk by Jack’s father Eric Windeler.)

‘ Support Clara’s Big Ride
Follow along with Clara’s journey at and join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ClarasBigRide or #GrandTourClara.

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