Students at Lake City Secondary School were encouraged to look out for each other’s mental health during a presentation at their school Wednesday morning.
“There are some physical and psychological things with depression we can notice if we pay attention,” said Janice Breck, manager of crisis and counselling with the Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch as she spoke students at the Williams Lake campus.
Titled Beyond the Blues, Breck’s talk outlined the signs of depression, anxiety and risky drinking.
If a friend isn’t participating in sports, which is something they normally do, or maybe isn’t eating properly, and it goes on day after day, those could be some signs to look for, she said.
“If you notice something, ask somebody how they are doing,” Breck encouraged the students, noting it is OK to be blue and sad because people cannot possibly be happy 24/7, but depression is more than that.
When she asked the students for examples of things it is fine to be sad about, they responded the death of a loved one, failing a test, getting fired from a job or a break up.
“Treatment for the blues requires someone to be a good listener, so we talk to our friends,” Breck responded. “If it’s a death we need time to heal.”
For depression people do need to be diagnosed and it is scary that less people go for help because they think they can handle it, Breck said.
“Twice as many women as men report depression, but that could be that men have it just as much but don’t report it.”
Anxiety is a normal response to some things in life, but when excessive and unrealistic fear and distress interfere with normal daily functioning it becomes an issue, Breck said, noting one in four people will experience anxiety issues in their life time.
Breck told the students substance abuse isn’t a good thing and wanted it becomes problematic when it affects a person’s life socially, personally, at work or school.
While low-risk drinking guidelines are suggested for youth zero drinks is best, if teens are drinking they should follow the no more than two drinks total for a girl and three in total for a boy, Breck said.
Many local agencies participated in the event by setting up tables at the back of the commons room for students to ask questions after Breck’s presentation.
Participants included the BC Schizophrenia Society, Boys and Girls Club, Child and Youth Mental Health, Chiwid Transition House, Children Who Witness Abuse Program, RCMP Victim Services, Aboriginal Victim Services and Canadian Mental Health’s Family Solutions and Crisis and Counselling programs.