Panic. Racing heart. Sweaty palms. If you are a BC resident between the ages of 17 and 29, have ever experienced anxiety, and want to express it in writing or multimedia, then the AnxietyBC Youth Contest may be for you.
The AnxietyBC Youth Contest started in 2013 as a promotion of the organization’s Youth and Young Adult website. One board member, also the parent of a teenage daughter, was particularly passionate about encouraging the use of creative outlets for the representation and expression of anxiety and co-occurring mental health struggles. Three years later, the contest continues and has joined other initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk Day in the growing body of discourse around mental wellness.
Vanessa Waechtler of AnxietyBC stresses the importance of prevention and early intervention, which is part of the reason that the contest—and other similar efforts—go the extra mile in order to reach out to youth. “Those in the mental health world need to be conscious of going where youth are and using the means that speak to them, for example, through YouTube videos and apps, instead of assuming where they are or what they want to hear,” says Waechtler. “Also, efforts that serve to increase anxiety awareness amongst those who have daily contact with youth such as parents and teachers can help us to catch problems earlier in life.”
Anxiety can manifest in different ways from individual to individual. Although anxiety affects youth and adults alike, youth often face additional barriers. “Even though people of all ages experience anxiety in the same way, youth might be less likely to seek help due to a lack of understanding/awareness of anxiety disorders or a fear of being stigmatized against if their parents or friends were to find out,” says Waechtler. “Additionally, youth do not always have the resources [especially financially] to be able to access treatment.”
While AnxietyBC—and many other mental health professionals—recommend cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) as a successful therapy in changing behaviours through the understanding of the thoughts and feelings of a mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, there are a number of resources and approaches that can also help. Ultimately, one of the most important ways in which we can battle the difficulties of mental health issues is through the combined efforts of normalizing and de-stigmatizing mental illness—which is what efforts like AnxietyBC’s Youth Contest aim to do.
AnxietyBC is accepting poetry, writing, and multimedia art submissions until March 31, 2016. Contest winners will receive up to $500 and have their work published on AnxietyBC's website and social media channels. For full contest rules, or to enter a submission, click here.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, there are a number of resources. You are not alone. Seek help.
The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC (Crisis Centre)
Greater Vancouver: 604-872-3311
Toll Free: 1-866-661-3311
AnxietyBC Youth and Young Adult Website youth.anxietybc.com/
AnxietyBC’s MindShift app: allows users to access free CBT support through their smartphones.
Canadian Mental Health Association www.cmha.ca
The FORCE Society for Kids' Mental Health www.forcesociety.com/
Mood Disorders Association of BC www.mdabc.net/
BC Schizophrenia Society www.bcss.org/
Centre for Addictions Research of BC www.uvic.ca/research/centres/carbc/
Family Services of the North Shore www.familyservices.bc.ca/
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre keltymentalhealth.ca/