Health News: Donation To Help Youth Speak Up About Mental Health And Substance Use

Submitted. A $432,000 donation from Coast Capital Savings has enabled Fraser Health to develop Speak Up, a new initiative designed to provide teens and young adults with a voice in mental health and substance use. The first program of its kind in BC, Speak Up is unique because it engages young people with and without lived experience of mental health and/or substance use issues to share and learn from each other through peer support, targeted education in schools, and a new online community – Speak Up @ – for young people from across the province.

“Coast Capital Savings focuses our community contributions to programs that are focused on building a richer future for youth in our communities,” says Jay-Ann Fordy, Chief Human Resources Officer.

“Speak Up certainly fits within those parameters. We are really looking forward to watching the program develop and support youth in our communities who might not have had anywhere to turn before the launch of Speak Up.”

The Coast Capital Savings donation to Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation is the largest corporate contribution to youth and young adult mental health programs ever received in Fraser Health.

“We applaud Coast Capital Savings for enabling Fraser Health to bring this new program from inspiration to reality” says Jane Adams, President & CEO of Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation. “Speak Up is already helping young people learn and talk about some of the mental health or substance use concerns that may be silently impacting their lives.”

As a youth for youth initiative, Speak Up is designed to help teens and young adults to discover and recognize their strengths, and to inspire them to leverage these strengths to enhance their quality of life and wellbeing.

Dr. Karen Tee, Manager, Child, Youth & Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Use Services for Fraser Health, led the team that created Speak Up.

“We thank Coast Capital Savings for enabling us to develop this “by youth for youth” resource,” Tee says. “With the help of peer education and support, teens and young adults can feel more comfortable sharing their experiences in person or online. This awareness and sharing helps them recognize when they may need help for their own personal situation and where to find it. Speak Up also gives young people who are recovering from mental health and substance use issues the opportunity to be give back, support other young people, and be a vision of hope and recovery.”

As a young adult with firsthand experience, Speak Up Youth Peer Coordinator Aidan Scott understands the importance of encouraging youth to talk openly about mental health and substance use.

“The need to be heard and supported was imperative in my personal recovery. Speak Up is a way of connecting with youth that doesn’t wait for illness, rather it seeks to empower them to talk about mental wellness early and often.”

David Dryden, Council Chair for Coast Capital’s Young Leaders Community Council notes: “Any tools that can be provided to youth in the realm of mental health are well worth the investment. Coast Capital’s Young Leaders Council believes strongly that a resource of this kind is absolutely imperative to giving youth suffering from mental illness a voice, an outlet, a way to access the help they need. For so many young people, this service will be a bright spot in a very dark journey.”

About Speak Up

Part of Gaining Ground, Fraser Health’s teen and young adult mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention program, Speak Up expands the scope of youth mental health and substance use services in BC by:

· Enabling Gaining Ground to increase its youth-targeted education strategy from 21 high schools to 49 high schools and four universities/colleges in Fraser Health

· Creating a Youth Peer Network in Fraser Health, including youth peer mentors, a Youth Advisory Team and a youth peer coordinator

· Establishing Speak Up @ – an innovative collaborative web space where teens and young adults from across the province can share their stories, learn from others and express their thoughts, feelings and ideas in a variety of different media, including videos, stories and poetry

More information about Speak Up can be found at The site, which focuses on teens and young adults, also provides information and resources to encourage early detection and intervention for mental health and substance use issues.

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