25-year-old Victory (pronouns: they/them) says it’s simple. “No matter what is bothering you, if you are a young person and you are seeking support, you go to Kickstand. You can’t go wrong. Kickstand will direct you when you need to be.”
They is one of many serving on the Youth Action Council (YAC) for Kickstand; a relatively new initiative in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation and ATB Financial.
Trinity, a YAC member from Lethbridge, says that you just feel the difference. She states, “The power dynamic between the organization and the youth gets dissolved when youth are engaged in the process 24/7”. She says that young people are more compelled to seek help and connect with the service if it’s directed and relevant to them.
Kickstand is looking for diverse leaders 12 – 25 years old from Alberta with lived or living experiences with mental health and or substance use or difficulties accessing help. Youth continue to provide input and expertise to transform mental health support and access.
“The mental health of our young people is in jeopardy. I think that we have the opportunity to do something really different to transform, so it’s easy for them to get help earlier on in their journey,” adds Kickstand’s Executive Director, Katharine Hay. Research shows young people report an 80% decrease in distress, and a 73% increase in school and social functioning, after accessing integrated services with clinicians.I
Victory hopes to inspire others. “I know other people who don’t see themselves reflected in the mental health environment, which in my experience, is white middle-class Canadian-born, European heterosexual and cisgender.” She continues, “I’m not most of those things. And by speaking out with so many intersectional marginalized identities, I’m hoping to become a role model for those struggling with their mental health.”
Trinity knows how alone she felt when she was struggling as a teenager and as a Filipino Canadian. She wished Kickstand was there when she needed support. “No one is really alone, we are all going through this together, and there are places for your health and well-being.”
Kickstand offers free walk-in mental health support and substance counseling. They also offer workshops focused on eating disorders, cannabis, and increasing food literacy.This service is made possible by ATB Financial, which in December, is matching donations.
To donate click here