Written by Reasha Woolfe

In the fall of 2022 the BCSS Interior Region team in West Kootenay partnered with the Castlegar Youth Action Network (Castlegar and District Community Services) to offer Every Mind Matters on the last Friday of each month. Every Mind Matters is a mental health education and self-care drop in program for youth aged 12-19. This is a casual opportunity to learn about protective factors for brain health, as well as cultivate open conversations about mental illness.  

The December 2022 session took place on December 16 and was an opportunity for self-care during the hectic holiday season. Youth were invited for a trip to the hot springs followed by dinner together. A small group of youth joined the event and enjoyed conversations during the car rides, in the water, and over dinner about mental health, mental illness, coping strategies, and the Sinixt practice of “bringing it to the water” as an indigenizing approach to wellness. 

A young participant who lives with anxiety expressed that they felt relaxed and that being in the hot springs distracted them from the anxious thoughts that tend to come up. This youth, aged 14, also stated that this was the best day of their life, and that the Every Mind Matters youth group felt like a place where they belong. 

The participants enjoyed openly talking about serious mental illnesses and mental health over dinner after the event.

Zoe Mackay, Youth Coordinator and PEACE program counsellor with Castlegar and District Community Services stated “I feel so rejuvenated and am amazed by how much our youth opened up and shared! Great conversations… my cup is full!” 

Reasha Wolfe, BCSS West Kootenay Regional Educator is thrilled that the partnership between the two programs could make this kind of opportunity possible for youth during a time of year that is hectic at best, and very difficult for many.   

Both facilitators are always inspired by the hope to be found in the next generation and how many young people are already passionate stigma-busters when it comes to talking about mental illness!