Mental illnesses affect many people, much more than what people think. In a year, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health problem. By the time Canadians reach 40, 1 in 2 have or have had a mental illness. Youth between the age 15-24 are more likely to experience mental illness and at these ages, this demographic is less likely to seek professional treatment. 34% of Ontario high-school students indicate moderate-to-serious level of psychological issues. Most of the time, it is due to the amount of stress students face.
Mental and physical health also go hand in hand. People with a mental illness are twice as likely to have a substance use problem compared to the general population. At least 20% people with mental illness have a co-occurring substance use problem. Not only are these people are doubly as discriminated against due to a lack of sympathy from society, they are much more likely to worsen their mental health as well as experience permanent nerve damage.
Our program, Spark Health, is comprised of 6 high school students whose hopes are to erase many of the stigmas around mental and physical health and raise awareness for youth. We believe that the negative connotations surrounding “mental health” and even physical health disorders are caused by a lack of education around these issues. In turn, it discourages people to speak up about or even get any sort of help for their problems, damaging their life in the long run. We hope to create a future generation that is more empathetic and understanding and also not ashamed to ask for help.