An Abbotsford teenager is letting her peers know that the battle against mental health doesn’t have to be fought alone.
Mia Skoone, a 15-year-old Abbotsford Senior Secondary School student, launched the @mentalhealth4youth Instagram account earlier this summer as a way to help teens find and access important information related to mental health.
Skoone, who was named a part of the Youth Ambassadors Program with Canada last year, explained that she and her fellow ambassadors from all across North America were tasked to create a digital service project and mental health is an emerging issue for youth.
“I’ve lost people to suicide so it’s totally a big concern especially among youth,” she said. “I think that even though more people are talking about resources, they also need to know information about preventative mental health. Let’s teach kids the tools early on so they can learn about preventing some of these illnesses. I think we can do a better job of addressing and helping students.”
Skoone explained that social media stigma often adds to mental health problems, so she wants her account to be a positive beacon in an often negative environment.
“Being a high school student I totally see that kids are struggling with trying to fight stereotypes and trying to be their own person while trying to fight the standards of social media,” she said.
She said she wants to listen to local youth for future plans related to the account and that the account’s direct messages are always open to those youth who just need to talk.
“I’m taking lots of recommendations and students are asking me to post on different topics,” she said. “I’m really open to listening and hearing what youth want to say because this account is for them. So whatever kids need I am totally open to addressing that.”
Skoone also is an ambassador for Foundry Abbotsford, so she has the ability to connect users with anyone from that organization as well.
The Youth Ambassadors Program with Canada saw Skoone and about 30 other youth (15 to 18 years old) from Canada get selected to work with the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by The Center for the Study of Canada at SUNY Plattsburgh with support from World Learning and partnerships with the United States Embassy-Ottawa and Fulbright Canada.
The idea is to promote mutual understanding, increase leadership skills, and prepare youth to make a difference in their communities. Program themes include: civic education, community service, youth leadership development and social inclusion.
To view the Instagram page, visit instagram.com/mentalhealth4youth.
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