Rajah Maggay (left) and Kasey Enokson, vice-chair and chair of the city youth council’s health and wellness committee, spoke about a youth mental health survey at city hall on Monday May 27, 2019.
A new survey by the city’s youth council seeks to identify gaps in mental health supports for young people in Edmonton.Data collected will be used to suss out what resources are a priority for young people, said the council’s health and wellness committee chairwoman Kasey Enockson, speaking at city hall on Monday.The online survey has been open a week, and more than 300 responses have been recorded.“We’ve seen a lot of youth who are financially struggling to access services,” Enockson said. She said there are some free services for students, but there can be long waits. And youth who aren’t students often can’t afford the cost of regular therapy appointments. She said many respondents have also said there aren’t services close to where they live.The model the youth council is eyeing as a possible community-based solution is a series of “hubs” throughout the city, where youth aged 12 through 25 could be connected to not only mental health services, but also education and employment supports, said vice-chairwoman Rajah Maggay.Enockson said committee wants to use the data it collects to argue for city investments in youth mental health, in hopes that local success will spur more funding from the province.MacEwan student and local youth advocate Anika Gahun said she’s already taken the survey. She would like to see services that bridge the gap between school and life afterwards, when a young person can find themselves suddenly cut off from services.“Finding ways to make that easier for families and youth would be really helpful,” she said.City councillors Michael Walters and Scott McKeen said Monday that they’re keen to see the survey results.“It’s clear as day to me that those are services and support hubs that are lacking. The number of young people struggling with mental health is blowing my mind,” said Walters.McKeen said failing to take leadership on mental health issues just means more social problems, like homelessness and chronic addiction, showing up on city streets.“Do we do health and social services? No. But we sure bloody well should take responsibility for defending our citizens and their needs,” he said.The anonymous survey will remain open on the youth council’s website until the end of June. The council is collecting responses from youth aged 13 to firstname.lastname@example.org/paigeeparsons