Jillian’s story

She’s young and in a state of upheaval.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on youth. Jillian among them.

“I’ve been really struggling with my mental health. I’m lonely and isolated, which I think is about not being in contact with other human beings for almost two years.” The pandemic made her anxiety and depression worse, and she was using drugs.

Approximately 20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder, including substance use disorder. Recent research shows that during the pandemic, 50% of young people have faced a decline in their mental health.

Jillian was able to find a private therapist, but the cost was too great. Thankfully, her grandmother was able to step in. Jillian says, “I have no idea how people survive without therapy. And it is so expensive. Like I needed to go once a week. There were times where I went twice a week.”

Then, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic, Jillian lost her housing. “Granny to the rescue again.” Her grandmother helped her find a place to live, but, suddenly in a new city, Jillian had no idea where to find mental health services.

“Everyone says, ‘oh, there’s this and there’s this for mental health’ But I find that whatever resources are out there they’re so hard to obtain. It should be common knowledge where to go.”

“I just wish that it didn’t have to be such a struggle to find support. Mental health care has to be a right. It has to be part of our legislation. Maybe even our constitution.”

Jillian is 26 and lives in Toronto.

If you’re a youth in crisis or are concerned about one, please call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 (24/7) or text CONNECT to 686868. Live Chat is also available 7 p.m. to midnight (Eastern Time).

To learn more about the Canadian Mental Health Association’s campaign for Free Mental Health Care Now please visit www.actformentalhealth.ca