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Youth Blog: The Misconceptions of Houselessness

By Jaimie Arrigo & Cece Fajardo

In the past decade, it has become prevalent that British Columbia has been experiencing a social crisis with houselessness. Vancouver currently stands at the third highest city for its houseless population in Canada. In the Metro Vancouver area alone, there are upwards of 3,600 people living without a house. With an insufficient amount of affordable housing and vacancy rates below 1%, people and families are forced into houselessness. The cost of living is very expensive and not always easy to manage for people living below the poverty line. What happens is that folks are having to make exceptionally difficult decisions between rent, food, childcare, clothing, medical care, heating, and more because of their financial state. Additionally, there are many factors that coin into houselessness that people may overlook. We often carry biases or have misconceptions when it comes to people who are houseless, which can be damaging as the reason is unique for each individual. Today, we will cover the common misconceptions of houselessness in hopes to eradicate the negative outlook.

A lot of people carry the common misconception that most individuals who are facing the struggle of houselessness, are facing it as a result of substance abuse, and furthermore, that they are at fault for their being houseless. These misconceptions cause many to lack empathy towards the houseless community and as a result lack interest in offering their support. The people who don’t properly understand the difficult and unfortunate reality of the situation often don’t take the time to become educated about it, and are therefore left not wanting to take any part in helping to improve the situation. The truth is, houselessness is a very serious and widespread issue that results from a number of causes. One substantial factor involved in the struggle with houselessness is mental illness. A lot of people who struggle with mental illnesses fall victim to houselessness for reasons such as not being able to earn a stable income, having increased struggles in carrying out daily tasks, and overall not having the proper support to overcome these challenges.  Job loss is another common cause of houselessness and can happen due to various reasons and circumstances, the pandemic being one of them. Some other unfortunate factors involved in the result of houselessness include people suffering from domestic violence and having difficulty finding a proper way out of their situation, the occurrence of a natural disaster resulting in the loss of homes and jobs for many, and substance abuse without the proper help and support. There is also a very disproportionately high number of Indigenous peoples suffering from houselessness and this is often rooted in Canada’s history of colonialism. Houselessness is clearly not a simple problem with a simple solution, a concept that can hopefully become more understood.

It is hard to think that so many fellow British Columbians are experiencing houselessness in our community. If you are interested in helping the houseless, we’ve found a few ways to contribute.


Three Ways to Support houseless individuals in BC:

  1. Drop off basic essential items for care kits – If you live in the Vancouver area this may be a great idea for you! Through Union Gospel Mission (UGM), you are able to drop off essential items for them to create care packages for the houseless. For more information and the address, go to https://www.ugm.ca/summer-most-needed/
  1. Donate to Affordable Housing Campaign – The lack of affordable housing is a leading cause of houselessness in British Columbia. By donating to the 50 Women of Options campaign, you are contributing to affordable houses being built, therefore, accessible homes for people in need. For more information and where to donate, go to https://womenofoptions.ca/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwhr2FBhDbARIsACjwLo2mx58wygIuTrvNX8I9VTQt75sDKwZrHHe2cyWr-r8V6y-j-JBNbKkaAg6mEALw_wcB 
  1. Give your old clothes to local homeless shelters – A great way to recycle old clothing is by donating it to your local homeless shelters. This way, it will be given to people directly in need.

Hopefully this informs you that there are many factors of houselessness beyond what many people typically choose to believe, and as a community we should do our best to empathize for these individuals and help them and the rest of the community where we can. Through researching and educating ourselves about this topic, it has broken our hearts to realize the situations many people are put in due to their mental health, job loss resulting from the pandemic, and other factors. Many of us are very privileged in different ways and it’s important that we use our privilege to help others.


Reference List

Union Gospel Mission. (2018, October 25). Help Homeless Poverty Addiction Vancouver. Union Gospel Mission. https://www.ugm.ca/help-homeless-poverty-addiction-vancouver/?gclid=CjwKCAjw47eFBhA9EiwAy8kzNLA2nDlXn4ljz__Z5Y-CL4YdxvHUxoDvGl-PwmHuz9A_qYPP3ac7gRoCwikQAvD_BwE
Leach, A. (2008). The Roots of Aboriginal Homelessness in Canada. Aboriginal Housing Management Association. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/573e02ab62cd943531b23633/t/5

Youth Blog: I Was Only 10: A Reflection and A Poem on Homosexuality

By Matthew Yung

Homophobia is taught; the things we teach our children are the things they believe in the future. I wrote this poem with how I was raised in mind. For a long time I struggled with accepting my own sexuality and coming to terms with who I truly am. It’s not easy going against what you grew up learning and honestly I wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t been exposed to so much negative prejudice about the LGBTQ+ community when I was younger. However, it’s important now more than ever to change the stigma and people’s minds about queer people, which starts with our leaders of tomorrow. A slippery slope argument I see a lot against this is that “we’re shoving LGBTQ+ propaganda down our children’s throats, before you know it my kid will become gay”. But learning to be tolerant and accepting towards different groups of people does not at all result in becoming queer. Quick fun fact – gay men/straight women often have larger hypothalamus’ than straight men/lesbian women! 

In short, how we educate our children on these topics can directly affect their morals and values in both negative and positive ways. I hope this poem brings some light to how we can teach kids toxic behaviours. I fully believe that if we work together, we can bring about change for the future generation of people in the LGBTQ+ community so they won’t have to relive the awful things that have happened in the past.  Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy 🙂


I Was Only 10

I used to run in the rain without an umbrella 
Looking for a boy with bright red boots
When I found you we held hands 
And headed to your house for bananas with nutella 

I was only 10 when I learned

I really shouldn’t express my feelings
Just shake it off like a real man 
It was all about what people thought 
And doing what others saw as appealing 

I was only 10 when I learned 

I can’t play with Barbie and I shouldn’t cry 
Because those are things girls do 
Holding hands with you was weird 
Since the adults said we’re both guys 

I was only 10 when I learned 

Boys aren’t supposed to like other boys 
The world loves you unconditionally 
But only if you’re on the straight and narrow
Fitting in and not making any noise

I was only 10 when I realized  

On a day just like any other day 
Searching for my best friend,
We locked hands and you said:
“I’m not allowed to hang out with you anymore, 
My mom says you’re too gay” 
I finally put the pieces together 
And walked away

Youth Blog: Eurocentrism’s Implications On Mental Health And Psychology Related Services

By Lynna Si

The neon tail of highlighter makes another streak across the paper, spotlighting the key words. With a swish, the paper flips to the next page. And I stopped in my tracks as something caught my eyes while the pen froze in the air. 

I was reading a book on the different treatments, including therapies, for psychology disorders. That’s when I crossed a word: eurocentrism. Although I’ve encountered it before a few times, I never imagined it to be related to therapy. So I decided to abandon the book for a while and do some additional research. 

In simple terms, eurocentrism  is judging people of non-European descent with European values and culture such as competitiveness, individualism, patriarchy… This can lead to negative implications such as prejudice, seeing European culture as “superior” than other cultures around the world, or expecting others to behave according to the Western values regardless of their cultural background. Other than being highly related to marginalization, discrimination, and exclusion of minority groups, Eurocentrism has far-reaching impacts in mental health too. In fact, eurocentrism is a foundation of modern counseling methods, which was developed by counselors and therapists of European descent and worked only with White clients. So even though the techniques were supported scientifically with research, the data are mostly on the effectiveness the treatment had on people of European descent rather than on people from all ethnicities.  

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has been used to diagnose mental disorders for many years, but it’s also influenced by eurocentrism. For example, there’s an unusually high number of African-American boys diagnosed with ADHD with the DSM. A reasoning for this was that psychologists used an eurocentric standard to judge the behaviour of the children. Modern therapy and counseling revolves around the concept of eurocentrism, despite the fact that many non-European cultures exist, which can be detrimental to non-Europeans seeking mental health or therapy treatment. 

A way to address eurocentrism is for counselors or therapists to use a culturally responsive evaluation when diagnosing or treating their patients. In a culturally responsive evaluation, the counselor must understand the cultural and social factors in a patient’s condition and offer a customized treatment accordingly, staying away from stereotypes and the idea of a “one-size-fits-all” option. It also involves finding out the cultural concerns the patient might have while providing a treatment to make sure they’re comfortable and help it be more effective. 

The world is not made up of one culture, but rather of many vibrant and unique ones. That is why it’s important to address these cultural differences when offering therapy options to ensure an effective treatment for the person seeking it, no matter which culture they come from.


Reference List

Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). (1970, January 1). Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Treatment Planning. Improving Cultural Competence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK248423/

Unknown. (2016, October 6). Eurocentism – IResearchNet. Psychology.

http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/counseling-psychology/multicultural-counseling/eurocentrism/

youth Blog: As A Privileged Youth, How Can I Help Others In My Community?

By Micah Yabut & Olivia Hood

Although it may not be as visible in Richmond and Vancouver, many youths in our community live in poverty. Studies have shown that as of 2020, 1 in 5 children that live in BC, live in poverty. This does not necessarily mean they live without a home, in fact it has a lot more to do with the small impacts. Some effects that are not talked about often include behavioral changes and health problems. 

Many families who live in poverty have noticed their children have a hard time concentrating in class, are disruptive, or lack communication skills. These may result from a deficiency in nutrients that their parents are unable to provide them with, or a poor sleep schedule from the stress caused by living in their conditions. There is also an unavailability of extra curricular activities as the parents cannot afford to pay for them. While many of the children have interactions with classmates at school, a lack in extra curricular activities can cause a big gap in the development of their social skills and ability to explore their interests. In addition, signs of depression and anxiety have been known to show up in children that frequently change schools because of the constant change in lifestyle. Any child would struggle facing these adverse conditions, and just because you may have not personally experienced it, it doesn’t mean youth living in poverty doesn’t affect an entire community. There are many ways we, as youth, can help those in crisis in our communities and below we have listed resources that can assist you in lifting up others around you. 

Read more:

Report — The Face of Child Poverty in Richmond: A Call to Action

2020 BC Child Poverty Report Card

The best ways to help those less fortunate than us include: donating to reliable and upfront organizations, participating or starting your own fundraisers, and volunteering in the community for either larger organizations with helping youth in poverty as their main goal, or joining smaller groups which have the same core values as you and are working towards a common goal. 


In our experience, joining a youth-led leadership group in our community has provided us a way to help other less fortunate youth around us, as well as put us in a setting with other motivated, passionate, and hardworking individuals. Being a part of C-Change, a group focussed around mental health and social justice, has given us a window into the lives of others in our area. Throughout 2020 and 2021, we completed numerous initiatives in Richmond, including one where we created and provided care packages to youth living in foster care in our community. That experience allowed us to help youth in poverty and unstable living conditions at the same time as working as a team with peers to complete the project. Joining a group like this is something we would highly recommend as a way to connect to other youth around you, make meaningful connections in your neighbourhood, and ultimately contribute to a greater cause!


A Brief List of Resources, Websites, and Ways Anyone Can Help

Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives: RCRG

This website is a database that lists volunteer opportunities in Richmond based on what you’re passionate about. Anyone can find leadership, board, and volunteer positions as well as mentorship opportunities. The site is easy to navigate and positions are categorized into subjects you may be passionate about including animal welfare, civil rights, the environment, and of course poverty alleviation! The only thing left to do is to create an account and start applying!

Foundry – Where Wellness Takes Shape

This organization offers health and social services to youth (aged 12-24) across British Columbia. Not only do they provide programs for those in crisis, struggling with substance abuse, and family situations, but also resources for more mainstream topics such as mental health, work and school, and active living. Their website provides opportunities to promote, donate, volunteer, and even work for their organization. This organization is more rooted in the prevention of youth going into crisis or poverty rather than directly dealing with the issue, but this is still an incredible resource to check out if you are worried about friends, family, or even yourself!

Aunt Leah’s Place

This organization focuses on preventing youth in foster care from becoming homeless and young mothers from losing custody of their children. Being in C-Change, we had the chance to partner with Aunt Leah’s for our care packages. We provided youth in foster care with essential items to prevent their interactions with poverty. Their website allows anyone to donate, volunteer, attend events and even support their cause through their own thrift shop. Aunt Leah’s allows you to make a direct impact on other youth in your community!

Directions Youth Services

This organization is set up to provide services to specifically support youth (anyone under the age of 25) in crisis or those who are experiencing homelessness. There are many opportunities to participate in fundraisers, donate, volunteer, or even work in these programs which can all be accessed through the website. Directions provides an outlet to support youth in BC and also builds up local communities while always staying professional and judgement-free. If your friends, family, or even neighbours need help, make sure to reach out to them.

All of these resources are crucial in helping those in need in our community. Make sure to reach out, volunteer, and get involved!


Reference List

Aunt Leah’s Place. (n.d.). Who We Are. Aunt Leah’s Place. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://www.auntleahs.org/about/

Davidson, H. (2013). Its Not Fair! The Face of Child Poverty in Richmond: A Call to Action. Richmond. 

Directions Youth Services. (n.d.). About Us. Directions Youth Services. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://www.directionsyouthservices.ca/about

First Call. (2020, December). 2020 BC Child Poverty Report Card. 

Foundry – Where Wellness Takes Shape. (n.d.). Who We Are. Foundry. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://foundrybc.ca/who-we-are/

Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives. (n.d.). About RCRG. RCRG. Retrieved May 26, 2021, from https://rcrg.org/WhatWeDo/AboutUs

Youth Blog: Take Responsibility For Your Words

By Eliana Barbosa

CONTENT WARNING: Discussion of racism, ableism, and offensive language

There are a multitude of derogatory words that have been used by people to oppress and harm others throughout history. These words have been passed down and are still heavily prevalent in today’s society. 

Throughout my life, I have frequently heard many derogatory words casually thrown around by the people around me and in the media. For a bit of time, I used to think some of those words were alright to say. I thought to myself that they were simply ‘just words’. However, after continually seeing the hurt it has caused to the people around me and doing my research, it became more apparent that these were not just words, but words with a harmful history behind them. From seeing such words being used in a negative connotation, I recognized how the continual aggression towards targeted groups is caused by many factors, one being derogatory words. Through this blog post, I wish to convey the message of why these words should not be included in your vocabulary, and the importance of educating yourself and keeping an open mind when it comes to your language.


What Are Derogatory Words?

Derogatory words (aka slurs) are words with a negative connotation used to put down marginalized groups, and fall under many categories such as ethnic slurs, religious slurs, homophobic slurs, biphobic slurs, transphobic slurs and ablelist slurs. These words are used to disparage people both on an individual level or a group as a whole. 


Words matter. Derogatory words do not only hurt others, but hold the possibility of creating violence and persecution. These words produce discrimination and hatred and should not be in our everyday vocabulary.


What If I’m Not Saying It To Intentionally Hurt Others?

Image by Eliana Barbosa

While the words spoken may not have malicious intent behind them, it is important to recognize the historical context of these words, and why they are harmful to say. For example, the n-word has been used in America during the days of slavery to dehumanize Black folks. The fact that this word was used in such a way to Black folks is indescribably wrong. Knowing this, the n-word should never be used, even if casually spoken. That being said, the notion that these words should not be said at all does not apply to the affected groups themselves. For example, the reclamation of the n-word in the Black community is a means to take back what was used against them.  Similarly, the f-slur is used in the LGBTQ+ community and those affected by it have taken back the word to reclaim the power it had over them. The fact of the matter is, it is never okay to use a slur to describe an affected group that you do not belong to. 


Some Words Are Not So Obvious

Many are desensitized to some words and do not acknowledge the effects that saying them bring, or do not even realize that they do. Derogatory words have been normalized in our everyday life, which is why it is important to research and understand why they should not be said. For example, the r-word has been used by many people, and can even be commonly heard in the media. However, the usage of this word as an insult to others is extremely detrimental and harmful to disabled folks.  By calling someone by this word, you are demeaning the lives of the people with intellectual disabilities, which is not okay since their lives are no less than those who are not part of that group. I have people close to me who are on the spectrum, and knowing that word is casually used to describe anything negative is hurtful. It is wrong to harm someone with your language.


Denormalization of Derogatory Words

To contribute to a socially just world, it is a great step to eliminate the use of derogatory words. Hate speech is not something to be taken lightly, as words truly affect the well-being of people’s lives. Due to the fact that these words are ingrained within our society, many people often neglect the harmful effects they have on particular groups. Consequently, when a derogatory word is said and there is no confrontation, we are allowing targeted groups to continue being affected, which only allows hatred to grow. 

As such, by being conscious of our words and understanding the negative impacts they may bring to others, we can stop hurting the people in affected groups. The next time you hear someone say a word they should not speak of, whether it be a friend, family member or classmate, tell them they should not say that word and the reasons why. I understand how it can be difficult confronting those close to you. However, as we continue to do our research and understand why these words should not be said, the easier it can be to relay this message to others. As language continues to evolve, it is important to always keep an open mind, and listen to what others have to say. Through actively being mindful of our words and the effects they have, we can help build a more positive and safe community. 


Reference List

Compton, C. (2011, December 14). The power behind derogatory terms. > U.S. Air Force > Display. https://www.af.mil/News/Commentaries/Display/Article/141374/the-power-behind-derogatory-terms/.

Mauro, T. (2021, May 16). Why the R-Word Needs to Be Removed From Our Vocabulary. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-is-the-r-word-3105651.

Weele, C. V. (2019, December 9). Reclaiming slurs is a form of resisting oppression. The Daily Aztec. https://thedailyaztec.com/91951/opinion/reclaiming-slurs-is-a-form-of-resisting-oppression/.

Wheeler, A. (2020, March 9). Why I’m reclaiming the homophobic slur I used to fear | André Wheeler. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/09/lgbt-gay-men-slur-homophobia.

Wilson, C. (2020, October 4). N-word: The troubled history of the racial slur. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-53749800

Youth Blog: Depression and the Effects on Eating Habits

By Matthew Ison

Depression. Although for most, depression may be a touchy and unwanted topic, depression is a real disorder that affects millions every year. And not only the person suffering from the effects of depression, but also those close to them. The side effects may vary from person to person with depression affecting everyone both physically and mentally. One common symptom of depression can be the altered eating habits. Eating is something we must do each day in order to sustain ourselves, but depression can make the task of eating a complicated and painful one. 

Depression causes most individuals to lose energy and interest in their daily activities, and when this affects appetite, the results can vary. For some, this loss of interest results in cooking less and finding meals unappetizing on a daily basis. This can result in rapid weight loss and can lead to serious health complications if untreated. Depression can also cause what is known as “emotional eating” which results from individuals finding satisfaction from the food they digest. Typically, these “emotional eating” diets are high in sugar and fat as these chemicals respond to the part of the brain that experiences pleasure. This can result in binge eating and overeating which can lead to greater health issues later in life. The lack of proper nutrients and vitamins deprives the body and mind of the needed nutrients in order to live a healthy life. Often, to fill the gap of missing nutrients and vitamins, antidepressants and other prescribed medicines fill the void and allow the body to continue bodily functions. There is no specific diet that can help prevent depression, but eating healthy and consistently striving for a healthy lifestyle can boost your physical and mental wellbeing. 

If you or someone you know may be experiencing depression or some of its side effects, there are some options available to seek treatment. The first step involves speaking about your symptoms to someone you trust. Followed by a possible doctor’s appointment to ensure that the changed eating habits aren’t a result of a different ailment.


Following are resources for those in need and assistance in their own times of need.

NEDIC 

NEDIC provides information, resources, referrals and support to Canadians affected by eating disorders through our toll-free helpline and instant chat. Outreach and education programming focuses on the awareness and prevention of eating disorders, and is available online across Canada and in-person in the Greater Toronto Area. 

Kids Help Phone (or dial 1-800-668-6868)

Kids Help Phone provides services for those in need on issues such as suicide, COVID-19 and other related and relevant issues. Text, phone and messenger assistance is available. 

BC Government 

The BC Government has compiled a list of reliable sources that assist those in vulnerable positions. 


Personal Reflection

Mental Health has been and will continue to control a large portion of my daily life. Having known people affected by depression and their own mental health, the importance of maintaining healthy mental health cannot be stressed enough. I have personally witnessed the effects of depression on a person’s mental health, eating habits, and relationships. The importance of taking time to yourself and taking your own mental health into account is a topic that should be taken seriously. A healthy life may be hard for some dealing with existing issues and problems, but with time and effort, happiness and self-confidence will come. 

Youth Blog: WHEN WE FEEL BETTER, WE DO BETTER.

By Alyssa Wong, Anika Ng and Sarassa Katayama

Reflection

Throughout our process of writing this blog, each of us were able to reflect on the healthy habits we personally use in our daily lives. This project not only educated us regarding our own mental health, but likewise brought attention to aspects in our lives we often did not pay attention to. We were able to broaden our perspectives and learn new healthy coping mechanisms.


Importance of Mental Health

Why fixate your mind on the negative sides of life, when you can focus on the positive aspects. As students, ensuring your mental health and wellbeing is important because it is directly linked to all aspects of your life, including academic performance. The impacts of mental illnesses can affect a student’s ability to concentrate, learn and feel motivated. Approximately 20% of Canadians struggle from a mental illness. In Canada, youth experience higher rates of mental illnesses in comparison to older age groups, and due to the pandemic, these statistics have substantially increased.


Shifting Your Perspective 

Sleep deprivation

Not having enough sleep can have severe consequences on your health and overall performance. Children aged 6-12 years should be sleeping 9-12 hours and teenagers aged 13-18 years should be sleeping 8-10 hours. Be sure to get enough sleep every day!

Relaxing and having fun! 

Relaxation and allotting personal time can help you to feel calmer, giving you time to think through any worries that may be on your mind. Taking time out of your day allows you to destress and take a break from any tensions. You can spend your time doing activities you enjoy, such as journaling or even taking a nap! 

Connecting with others

Connecting with family or friends improves your mental health. Studies show that having good social connections improve both your physiological and physical well-being. Social connections offer support for stressors you deal with on day to day tasks. Often, when voicing your issues family or friends can offer healthy methods to work through them.

Meditation

Meditation is an excellent method of promoting good mental health, boosting your mental capacity, and enhancing your focus. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with our daily tasks, often it is difficult to take a break and step back. With meditation, you are able to breathe and take a break from stressful tasks, with this method your overall mental health is improved. 

Exercise 

Daily exercise can improve your mental health as it targets common issues such as anxiety, depression, and even cognitive functions. Whether you are simply taking a leisure walk around the park or playing your favourite sport, it is essential to receive moderate physical activity every day!  Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day!

Eating Well 

Healthy diets are necessary to obtain good health and nutrition. Consuming healthy foods prevents mood fluctuations, improves your ability to focus, and overall improves your happiness! Many studies have shown that eating healthy foods can help with symptoms of depression as well as anxiety. Focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and eating food from the five main food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Protein Foods, and Dairy. Avoid processed meats, fried foods, and products that contain high contents of sugar. But with that being said, remember it is as important to treat yourself and nourish yourself with a healthy balanced diet.  

Practicing healthy thinking

Practice overcoming negative self-talk, thinking positively for many, can approach unpleasant feelings and situations in a more calm and accepting way. Having a positive outlook can allow you to cope better with stressful situations, which correlate to being open and encouraging yourself. Practicing healthy thoughts often will enable you to be grateful for the outcomes of your life, leading you to evaluate situations rationally and respond with a more beneficial approach. It’s normal to have negative thoughts when unpleasant problems occur. By validating your feelings, you can look at life in a balanced way and help manage these difficult thoughts. 

Reaching out for help

Recognizing that you are having difficulties and reaching out for help is one of the most important ways to keep yourself mentally healthy. There are plenty of resources available to suit your needs, so there is no shame in asking someone for support if you’re feeling low. Receiving help, especially through counselling or even talking to a trusted individual, is an excellent opportunity for personal growth and betterment.

If you are looking for help, check out our compilation of mental health resources by clicking here.


Reference List

Melinda. (2021, May 14). Building Better Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/building-better-mental-health.htm

Association, A. C. (n.d.). Tips for good mental health. Retrieved from https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/tips-for-good-mental-health

COVID-19 IMPACTS: Youth Well-being in Canada – The Vanier Institute of the Family / L’Institut Vanier de la famille. (2021). Retrieved 23 May 2021, from https://vanierinstitute.ca/covid-19-impacts-youth-well-being-in-canada/

Mentalhealthcommission.ca. 2021. Children and Youth | Mental Health Commission of Canada. [online] Available at: https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/what-we-do/children-and-youth [Accessed 23 May 2021].

Cdc.gov. 2021. Sleep in Middle and High School Students. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/features/students-sleep.htm [Accessed 23 May 2021].

Agape Treatment Center. 2021. Why Connection is Important for Mental Health – Agape Treatment Center. [online] Available at: https://www.agapetc.com/why-connection-is-so-important-for-mental-health/ [Accessed 23 May 2021].

Tips for good mental health | Here to Help. (2021). Retrieved 23 May 2021, from https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/tips-for-good-mental-health

Classroommentalhealth.org. 2021. Classroom Mental Health. [online] Available at: https://classroommentalhealth.org/in-class/why/ [Accessed 23 May 2021].

Team, B., Barrow, N., Team, B., & Team, B. (2021). Blog. Retrieved 23 May 2021, from https://www.blurtitout.org/blog/

Youth Blog: Maintaining A Healthy Mind Through Exercise

By Sayide Ahemode

Loved and hated, exercise is essential to human beings in more ways than one. For many, it serves as an outlet to gain confidence, become physically healthier, and interact with other like-minded people. However, did you know exercise is also vital to our mental health?  Used in the treatment of many mental health disorders, exercise serves as a provider of temporary relief from the symptoms that are present.

Starting with anxiety disorders. These disorders are chronic, debilitating, and impact multiple aspects of one’s life. Exercise up to 30 minutes a day can significantly relieve the effects of anxiety disorders. Exercise can not only distract a person from whatever it is they are worrying about, but it can also boost the production of anti-anxiety neuronmechinals in the brain, thus making exercise a great release from pent-up anxiety. 

Another disorder that improves upon exercise is OCD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a chronic condition characterized by persistent thoughts or rituals and affects about 1 in 40 people. Treatment of it often involves specialized therapy like exposure therapy and medication. However, studies have found that a new and effective way to manage OCD is exercise. Exercise works because it could be likened to a form of exposure therapy, in that it exposes the person to uncomfortable feelings which they have to get through in order to feel better afterwards. It is recommended that, for the maximum benefit, a person with OCD should get 30 minutes or more of exercise on most days. Also, it is important to note that ten minutes of exercise several times a day can be as effective as one longer period especially if you pay mindful attention to the movement process. Although exercising is only a temporary relief from the suffering caused by OCD, it is an integral part of the solution to manage it, and ultimately, it should not be overlooked.

Simple exercises from walking to swimming can be integral to the management of one’s mental disorders. However, for people without such disorders, exercise is not only great for the body but also a well-recognized strategy for the avoidance of burnout and other common stressors in life. Exercise should never be neglected, it is something we ought to all do for the sake of maintaining our health.


Reference List

How to look after your mental health using exercise. (2021, May 14). Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise#:~:text=

Physical activity has a huge,can reduce stress and anxiety.

Owen Kelly, P. (2020, September 17). How Aerobic Exercise Can Reduce a Patients OCD Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/exercise-may-be-an-important-ocd-self-help-strategy-2510630#:~:text=

Exercise may cause the release,mood and fending off stress.

Being Active. (2019, February 26). Retrieved from https://www.anxietycanada.com/articles/being-active/

Inclusive Language: A Brief Guide

By Mary Ortega

[Writer’s Acknowledgement: I acknowledge that I do not identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community or a person with a disability. The following information is only a brief guide to using inclusive language and encourages further research. ]

[Disclaimer: Folks that belong to any groups mentioned may prefer other terms.] 


Why?

Language is a beautiful tool for self-expression and for understanding others in our community. It has given so many individuals the platform to speak about their passion. But when used without a care, language can construct barriers.

We adopt these barriers into our everyday communication unconsciously. That is what we call unconscious biases. For instance, when we use man-kind instead of humankind to describe the people of the Earth, we fail to envision ALL the people. The use of inclusive language enables us to acknowledge and outgrow our unconscious biases and be more empathetic.

How?

According to the United Nations, to use gender-inclusive language, the language and writing used must not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity and not perpetuate gender stereotypes.

To practice a more inclusive and respectful way of speaking, here are some of the elements of inclusive language.

Gender

The UN emphasizes how language is a powerful and essential aspect in shaping cultural and social attitudes and eliminating gender bias. To use gender-inclusive language in English, here are some phrases you can say start using:

Instead of:

Use:

  • Ladies and Gentlemen
  • Hey Guys!
  • Pregnant Women
  • Mankind
  • Waiter/Waitress
  • Man-made
  • Folks, everyone, everybody, people
  • Hey Friends! Hey Folks!
  • Pregnant people
  • Humankind
  • Server
  • Artificial, synthetic, manufacture

Other Gender-neutral language:

  • Brother/Sister -> Sibling
  • Husband/Wife -> Spouse
  • Boy/Girlfriend -> Partner
  • Mother/Father. -> Parent

Racial Identity

When talking about race and ethnicity, avoid using stereotypes of people due to their ethnicity, race, or skin colour.Likewise, avoid any kind of racial or ethnic slur. You might consider this as common sense but some people do not recognize that the words they are using are offensive. In particular, using the name of a continent instead of the country, like saying “Asian” instead of “Chinese,” when referring to someone is disrespectful.

Individuals who hold racial privileges might frown upon inclusive language because society already revolves around them. Consequently, they are always in the equation. Thus, marginalized individuals are often the people pushing for the development of inclusive language. However, choosing to respect others is not political. Here are some ways you can be more racially inclusive.

People With Disabilities 

We’ve been taught to treat people as people and to use people-first language. Not their disabilities. Although some folks may prefer people-first language, others may prefer identity-first language as their disabilities are a vital part of their identity. By conversing in identity-first language, you are validating the individual and their disability. Using people-first language with disabilities instead of disabled people conveys a positive message and humanizes the person. Ultimately, it is a personal preference so make sure to ask and listen to the individual with their preference.

Ableism 

You may have heard the term “ableism” being used around the media. Ableism is the term used to describe words and phrases that devalues and discriminates against people because of their disability. Can you think of some examples? If not, same here. It’s been so normalized and deeply embedded into our communities that we rarely perceive it as dismissive at first. Some common examples of ableist language are “psychotic”, “retarded”, “blind”, and “deaf”. 

Ways to avoid ableist language and examples of person-first language include:

  • Retarded -> silly, nonsensical 
  • Psychopath/Psychotic -> menacing, dangerous, or frightening 
  • Deaf person -> person who is deaf
  • Blind person -> people who have low vision

You can equally use “person living with disability”, and “person with lived experience of disability”. These are inclusive of people who no longer experienced disability.

When talking about a person with lived experience of disability, avoid adopting language that implies they are inspirational simply because of their impairment. Similarly, avoid making them objects of pity.

Stay Curious and Be Kind!

Practicing inclusive language promotes empathy, respect, and compassion which generates a meaningful lasting impact. For instance, members of marginalized communities encounter mental, emotional, and physical dangers. Using words that acknowledge their identity is crucial to establish psychological safety in schools, workplaces, online, and in public.

And as our society continues to progress, language continues to develop. With that, be open to making mistakes. Especially if you do not identify as a member of the group, you are talking about. Whether you are well-versed or a complete beginner, you are bound to be corrected, in which you respond by listening. 

Personal Reflection

As a co-captain of a team primarily focused on social change and mental health, the practice of inclusive language has vastly contributed to my ability to connect with my peers. It is a powerful tool in facilitating a safe environment for them and making them feel valued. With that being said, I am not perfect at it as I continue to learn from my mistakes and educate myself. 


Reference List

Inclusive Language | Queen’s University

Inclusive Language | Queen’s University. (2021). Retrieved 28 May 2021, from https://www.queensu.ca/styleguide/inclusivelan

Q&A: Why Inclusive Language Matters

Q&A: Why Inclusive Language Matters. (2021). Retrieved 28 May 2021, from https://today.duke.edu/2021/05/qa-why-inclusive-language-matters

Let’s be real: Inclusive Language Matters

Let’s be real: Inclusive Language Matters. (2020). Retrieved 28 May 2021, from https://medium.com/@nehajain_67217/lets-be-real-inclusive-language-matters-206a40f74c38#:~:text=Inclusive%20Langua

Positive Space Language – UBC Equity & Inclusion Office

Positive Space Language – UBC Equity & Inclusion Office. (2021). Retrieved 28 May 2021, from https://equity.ubc.ca/resources/positive-space/positive-space-language/

How to use gender-inclusive language

How to use gender-inclusive language. (2021). Retrieved 28 May 2021, from https://majorarqueerna.com/how-to-use-gender-inclusive-language/

UNITED NATIONS Gender-inclusive languageUNITED NATIONS Gender-inclusive language . (2021). Retrieved 28 May 2021, from https://www.un.org/en/gender-inclusive-language/

Youth Blog: This Year In Anti-asian Racism

A non-comprehensive overview

By Erika Chung

CONTENT ADVISORY: Mention of violence, foul language

An oppressive onslaught of anti-Asian hate crimes greeted the one-year “anniversary” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Video footage of elderly East Asians being brutally beaten, injured and assaulted spread like wildfire online. It seemed as if every day, there was a new news story covering the latest Asian hate crime. Soon, reports of anti-Asian incidents spread to local communities, with Metro Vancouver area attacks increasing in both prominence and publicity. Younger Asians are beginning to fear for their safety, wondering “Am I or my grandparents next?”

This thought passed through my head as I shuffled through my newspaper and swiped through my social media feeds. As an Asian-Canadian teen, I am part of the minority targeted by these hate crimes. However, I feel disconnected from the crimes committed against the community I was born into. I am quite literally lost in translation — I neither speak nor write the mother tongue of my grandparents — and I hear the hardships of the Asian community from an outsider’s perspective. Because of this, I’ve recognized the importance of self-education, and having open ears and an open mind. While researching online, I initially found the “First National Anti-Asian Racism Report,” then the follow-up “A Year of Racist Attacks” report a couple months later. Both reports were written by public Asian organizations, and are connected to public databases that benefit the whole community. I continue to strive to understand this community, a process I hope will bring me closer to my Asian roots. My research for this article stems from that deep desire to learn about the Asian community, as told by Asian voices. 


Timeline

February 4, 2021 – Graphic Video of Elderly Man Being Pushed to Ground

Video surveillance catches a 91-year-old man being forcefully pushed to the ground in Oakland, California’s Chinatown. The same day, the perpetrator also attacked a 55-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man. 

February 27, 2021 – Deadly Assault on Elderly Thai Man

Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was violently knocked to the ground in a fatal attack in San Francisco, California. He would later develop a brain hemorrhage and die in hospital.

March 16, 2021 – Atlanta Shootings

8 people (including 6 Asian women) are killed inside spas in the Atlanta, Georgia, area by gunman Robert Aaron Long. He told police that he carried out his violent rampage to eliminate his “sexual addiction.”

The victims were Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Hyun Jung Grant, 51 and Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz, 30 (seriously injured). 

March 21, 2021 – Woman Struck on Face with Metal Pipe

A woman was assaulted in Manhattan’s Lower East Side by a man who yelled “I came to f*** up Asians!” She would later need stitches. 

March 27, 2021 – Korean UBC Student Attacked on Campus

The victim was punched in the head in the stomach after the attacker used a racial term before assaulting her. 

March 28, 2021 – Anti-Asian Racism Rally

Rallies in solidarity against anti-Asian racism are held across Canada (Penticton, the Tri-Cities, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary), with Vancouver’s rally occurring outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Hundreds show up, masked and carrying posters, at the Vancouver rally. 

March 29, 2021 – Coffee Shop Incident

At a Richmond coffee shop, an employee who asked a customer to maintain social distance was verbally assaulted by the customer who said “F*** you Chinese.” Coffee was also thrown at her.

April 1, 2021 – Arden Cho Verbally Assaulted While Walking Her Dog

A stranger threatens to kill Cho and her dog in an incident that prompted her to share her traumatic experience and pleas to #StopAsianHate on social media.  

April 22, 2021 – US Senate Passes Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill

With a vote of 94-1, senators passed a bill focused on raising awareness of hate crimes and setting up virtual reporting systems for those crimes.


A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year Into the COVID-19 Pandemic – Report

The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter released “A Year of Racist Attacks,” a government-funded report documenting Anti-Asian racism one year into the pandemic. This follows the First National Anti-Asian Racism Report released on September 9, 2020. As with the previous report, incidents were reported through covidracism.ca and elimin8hate.org. These websites are anonymous community reporting services created by local nonprofits.

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Protesters at an Anti-Asian Hate Rally in Washington, DC

Quick Statistics

  • Between March 10th, 2020 and February 28, 2021, 1150 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported 
  • 50% of all incidents occurred in public spaces (roads, parks), followed by 20% occurring in food sector areas (restaurants, grocery stores)
  • 73% of victims reported that mental distress/emotional harm was a consequence of the racists attack, by far the most common type of response

Actual Reports

  • “Asian man was going into the Quality Inn during a business trip. In the parking lot as he was going in, two men asked him for money. He said that he didn’t have any, at which point they said “Why don’t you give us some money for that s*** [COVID-19] you brought over to Canada?” then lunged at him.”
  • “Two males in their late 20s/early 30s attacked me from behind during my morning walk. They kicked me repeatedly for a couple of minutes, while shouting at me to go back to China with the COVID-19 virus that I brought.”
  • “Will it get to the point that I will one day need to escape from my beloved Canada to save my life?…Very painful to feel hated by everyone in one’s home country.”

In an interview with CBC, VPD Const. Byron remarked on the increases in anti-Asian hatred, “I’ve had more people approach me talking about fears of the neighbourhood, fears of walking through here, fears of having their elderly family members walk through here. There’s a lot more fear now.”

I’ve had more people approach me talking about fears of the neighbourhood, fears of walking through here, fears of having their elderly family members walk through here. There’s a lot more fear now.

This fear is one that resonates with many Asians, not only in Vancouver. The hashtag #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate trended on social media, with posts in support of the movement surging as racist incidents garnered more international attention. 

The prevalence of anti-Asian racism has only increased within the last year. From hate crimes to more subtle racist remarks, reports flow in daily of incidents from Asians of all ages and gender identities. News stories and the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter’s report serve as a chilling reminder that anti-Asian racism is a widespread and festering issue.


Reference List

Anthistle, M. (2021, April 25). Hidden Hate: Younger generations call out disturbing rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7785233/anti-asian-hate-crimes-racism/.

BBC. (2021, March 22). Atlanta spa shootings: Who are the victims? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56446771.

Brinkley, L. (2021, February 9). Suspect arrested in attack on 91-year-old in Oakland’s Chinatown, police say. ABC7 San Francisco. https://abc7news.com/chinatown-push-91-year-old-pushed-to-ground-opd-suspect-oakland-attacks/10322263/#:~:text=Oakland’s%20newest%20police%20chief%20announced,caught%20on%20camera%20in%20Chinatown.

Brisco, E. (2021, April 2). ‘I’m still shaking’: ‘Teen Wolf’ star Arden Cho details how racist attack sparked childhood trauma. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2021/04/02/teen-wolf-arden-cho-reveals-details-recent-anti-asian-attack/4850534001/.

Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter. (2021). Covid Racism Final Report. Toronto.
Fuller, T. (2021, February 27). He Came From Thailand to Care For Family. Then Came a Brutal Attack. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/27/us/asian-american-hate-crimes.html.

Haig, T. (2021, March 26). New report finds anti-Asian racist incidents on the rise in Canada. RCI. https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2021/03/24/new-report-finds-anti-asian-racist-incidents-on-the-rise-in-canada/.

Home. Stop AAPI Hate. (2021, May 5). https://stopaapihate.org/.

Hong, D., & Alden, C. (2021, March 30). Korean UBC student attacked Saturday in University Village, RCMP not ruling out ‘bias or hate’ motives. The Ubyssey. https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/korean-student-attacked-sat-night/.

Lui, S. (2021, April 25). Hidden Hate: Exposing the roots of anti-Asian racism in Canada. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7784170/hidden-hate-exposing-the-roots-of-anti-asian-racism-in-canada/.

The New York Times. (2021, March 26). 8 Dead in Atlanta Spa Shootings, With Fears of Anti-Asian Bias. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/03/17/us/shooting-atlanta-acworth.

Ramachandran, V. (2021, March 18). What you can do to fight violence and racism against Asian Americans. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/what-you-can-do-to-fight-violence-and-racism-against-asian-americans.

Rayman, G. (2021, March 22). ‘I came here to f— up Asians’: Woman hit in face with metal pipe in latest Manhattan hate crime. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/i-came-here-to-f-up-asians-woman-hit-in-face-with-metal-pipe-in-latest-manhattan-hate-crime/ar-BB1eQ1br.

Rogers, A. (2021, April 23). Senate overwhelmingly passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/22/politics/senate-vote-hate-crimes-bill/index.html.