The Q&A panel of speakers from left to right: Katherine Shearer

Castlegar acts as launch point for mental health campaign

Documentary looks at biology of happiness

Chris Stedile

 

West Kootenay Advertiser

 

Sixty-five individuals filled the Old Castle Theatre last week to kick off a regional mental health awareness campaign and assist in eliminating the stigma that acts as a shadow for mental health issues.

The event in Castlegar marked the launch of a regional Kindness Creates Wellness campaign, geared towards increasing mental health literacy for parents, teachers and youth around the Kootenay Boundary.

The evening was hosted by the Kootenay Boundary Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative. A panel of seven speakers was on hand to raise awareness and discuss hot topics with the audience. The speakers included a Stanley Humphries student, pediatrician, psychologist and more.

Happy was the title of the film used to engage the audience in conversations about community mental health wellness and discuss how happiness increases the more one is physically active, performs actions for the benefit of others rather than for oneself, and feels close to family and friends.

“It’s a documentary about the biology of happiness,” said Child and Youth Mental Health project manager Rachel Schmidt.

“It’s about how we as individuals create meaning in our life. It’s sort of this idea that we all make a certain amount of money in our lives and try to get our basic needs meet.”

However, Schmidt said it was more than that, and the group was striving to discover what beyond that makes human beings happy.

“When you ask the majority of people what they want out of life they say ‘I want to be happy.’ How do you get to that place?”

Schmidt believes one of the biggest reasons for unhappiness is loneliness and isolation.

As a result, the collaborative is looking to engage communities and youth to work together and help each other overcome and understand mental health issues.

 

“We chose to show [Happy] because we thought that even though we’re talking about mental health and substance use issues in children and youth, we all want to have increased mental health. We all want to feel good and be in a community where we feel accepted and belong.”

The SHSS student on the panel spoke up and explained a mental health fair at the high school could really help many students.

Many youth, especially those in high school suffer through anxiety and depression with no clear idea what is going on or how to deal with their problem.

Schmidt and her group want to prevent not only youth, but all members of all communities from falling through the cracks.

“So here in the Kootenays we have two goals this year,” she explained.

“To increase mental health literacy and make sure we’re looking at the cracks in the system and making sure families have access to the support they need.”

One tool that has been introduced recently is the KB Searchlight, an online resource with the goal of providing timely access to integrated mental health and substance use services and support throughout the province to children, youth and their families.

The creation of the KB Searchlight website is part of a large Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use collaborative funded by the BC. government and Doctors of BC.

Local schools such as SHSS have shown interest in having the film, Happy brought to either a classroom or school-wide assembly along with speakers to engage and support their young adults.

 

The Searchlight tool can be found at: kootenayfamilyplace.org.