Many people, especially young people, struggle with their mental health. To help, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Calgary Region has launched a new online tool that offers free courses targeting teens and young adults aged 16-24.

The association already offers programs in a number of areas, including peer support and self-care. But EQUIPPED, which launched in September, is targeting a group that is particularly susceptible to mental illness.

“Young adults are dealing with a unique balance of stress due to many life changes at that particular time within that age group,” said Michelle Wagner, director of community mental health and wellness for CMHA Calgary.

“The aim of the course is really to equip those individuals to build mental health knowledge and the skills to understand the things that they can do to support their own mental health in their own mental health journey.” 

Mental health resources such as EQUIPPED can be a helping hand. PHOTO COURTESY: CMHA CALGARY

Honouring a student

The course was funded through a donation in honour of Phillip Thomas, a 25-year-old University of Calgary student who passed away following a battle with mental illness in 2019.

The Thomas family wishes for the program to continue to help combat mental health struggles. 

“Our hope is that this program equips teens and young adults with the tools and resources they need to cope with mental health struggles, build resilience, and end the stigma around mental health,” Thomas’s sister Vanessa said in a news release.

The platform was the result of careful work from their team, Wagner said.

“We spent about a year doing quite a few environmental scans. We did lots of planning, creating content and developing a website to be able to deliver the information to the community,” said Wagner.

YouthSMART, a pre-existing program, was the building block for the new program.  EQUIPPED offers two different courses on mental health awareness, and stress management and healthy coping. Each course comes with an activity based workbook featuring quizzes and interactive learning modules. The courses can be started and finished anytime allowing for flexibility. 

EQUIPPED helps build skills surrounding mental health. PHOTO COURTESY: CMHA Calgary

Young people are vulnerable

According to Youth Mental Health Canada, 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness. They say people aged 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness than any other age group. However, less than 20 per cent will receive appropriate treatment. 

According to Wagner, mental health issues have become more recognizable and therefore the courses are a tool to be used by those who need them to learn how to cope with stress and/or to support their own mental well being. 

Wagner said they have already heard from people who are being helped by the course.

“The one thing that I recognize, that we all recognize, is that everyone has mental health,” Wagner said. “These courses are for anyone who wants to learn more about how to cope with stress or to better support their own mental well being.”

Editor’s note: One of our sub-headlines has been changed from the original version to better describe the donation that funded the program.

Report an Error or Typo