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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

Sarah Hamid-Balma

Reprinted from the "Young People" issue of Visions Journal, 2013, 9 (2), p. 4

This is the first exploration of “Young People” since it was chosen as a recurring Visions’ theme. It’s a huge and diverse age group, so we decided to look broadly at teens and young adults this time. Teens and young adults have a lot in common but they’re not mentioned in the same breath as often as you’d think, for a lot of legal and institutional reasons. We hear reference to “child and youth” far more often (I wonder if teens ever resent that?). It’s definitely worth regularly asking younger users of our services what they think about how and for whom services are designed—and really listening to the answers.

Two firsts in this issue I’d like to briefly point out. First, you won’t find any in-depth program articles in this issue. We have so many to choose from in BC that we thought it would be more helpful to give you a menu of some of the excellent work around youth/young adult mental health education provincially and nationally. Second, this is the first time we’ve explored a young person theme and had a younger adult as guest editor. Thank you, Aidan, and all our contributors for your courage, eloquence and fresh thinking.

I have the kind of face that can sometimes pass for a 20-something—but I’m not and I haven’t been for awhile. The fact that I was a young person with mental illness once doesn’t give me a special pass. It’s something, of course, but it’s not enough. Being a young person today is different. For one, my high school years were internet-, smart-phone- and social-media-free. But bigger than any generational difference is that today, I have 20 years of hindsight. I know with the right help at the right time, things can and do get better. But knowing in your head and believing in your heart are very different things. I still remember a very apt quote someone told me when I was a teenager experiencing the early signs of mental illness: “Depression is like being in a dark tunnel with a light at the end…except you’re facing the other way.” You have to leave that tunnel to understand that quote. And youth need hope and the right support to get there.

About the author
Sarah is Visions Editor and Director of Mental Health Promotion at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division

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