Friday, October 2, 2015

Peer support: Peer mentoring project tackles teen anxiety

Age of Anxiety: Peer mentoring project tackles teen anxiety

North Vancouver teen mentoring programs gives youth chance to give back

Young people who struggle with anxiety and depression on the North Shore have a new resources to turn for help — two teenage mentors who have faced the same reality, and figured out a way to cope.

The peer-mentor program is being piloted by the North Vancouver branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association as part of its STEPS program, which brings together young people struggling with mental health to participate in a range of recreational activities.

"It gives youth the opportunity to take what might have been a really negative dark time in their life and actually do something positive with it," says outreach worker Jennifer Gibson.

Gibson facilitates the STEPS program, which for the past two years has focussed on dealing with three issues associated with anxiety: social isolation, physical inactivity and stigma.

Building resiliency

But the development of the peer mentor program, Gibson notes, will hopefully address a fourth issue — resiliency within the teenagers.

"I've seen a lot of growth in people who have come here" says 17-year-old Yvana Avram, who says the program itself is "a safe place that's free of stigma."

Avram participated in STEPS for the past two years after she was diagnosed with depression in Grade 9, but now in her Grade 12-year Avram says she is recovering and she felt mentoring other youth was a way to help.

"When I got the opportunity to be a peer mentor, of course I said yes, because I thought it would be really cool, and it's a chance to give back" says Avram.

Gibson says the two peer mentors were chosen because they are open about their lived experiences, and have been trained in active listening and boundary setting.

The teen mentors will not be involved in any crisis intervention and will regularly debrief with Gibson about their roles.

With files from Manusha Janakiram.

No comments:

Post a Comment