United Way Southern Vancouver Island Launches New Mental Health Campaign for Youth

February 28, 2023 / by United Way

United Way Southern Vancouver Island has launched the United for Mental Health campaign to inspire action from donors in raising funds to support the mental health of youth. The funds will be used locally to provide counselling, outreach, group therapy and peer support to improve mental health in youth and emotional wellbeing in this tumultuous time.

Youth on Southern Vancouver Island are facing unprecedented challenges with their mental health. Locally, one in three people face worse or much worse mental health compared to pre-pandemic, and youth are at higher risk, reporting significant anxiety, depression and stress. The situation has been described by the World Health Organization as a growing crisis in mental health. Last year, because of the collective generosity of donors and the dedication of frontline partners on Southern Vancouver Island, UWSVI helped 10,000 neighbours find hope and compassion through life-changing counselling and emotional support services.

“Suicide is a leading cause of death in young people, so early intervention is crucial in giving young people the support and skills to navigate challenges before they become severe,” says Erika Stenson, UWSVI’s executive director. “While many mental health conditions can be effectively treated at relatively low cost, there is a gap in services that our young people can access. We call on our community to unite for mental health. Together, we can make sure that young people access the help they need, where they need it, and when they need it most,” adds Stenson.

One of the services that are locally available but facing increased demand is Youthspace, a United Way funded program delivered by Need2 Suicide Prevention Education & Support. “In less than four months, the program staff and volunteers have received almost 1,000 calls for support,” says Sabrina Studney, executive director of Need2. “We are facing a significant increase in number of active suicide chats, meaning more youth are connecting with us to ask for help because they are thinking of suicide, or have taken actions to end their lives. Funding these services allows us to continue to provide youth in need with low-barrier access to crisis intervention and emotional support.”