One of our youth partners just shared this post with me, because it describes their experience with anxiety.

Often the anxiety youth live with on a daily basis is invisible to adults. This post explains why.

High-functioning anxiety sounds like…

You’re not good enough. You’re a bad friend. You’re not good at your job. You’re wasting time. You’re a waste of time. Your boyfriend doesn’t love you. You’re so needy. What are you doing with yourself? Why would you say that? What if they hate it? Why can’t you have your shit together? You’re going to get anxious and because you’re going to get anxious, you’re going to mess everything up. You’re a fraud. Just good at faking it. You’re letting everybody down. No one here likes you.

All the while, it appears perfectly calm.

It’s always looking for the next outlet, something to channel the never-ending energy. Writing. Running. List-making. Mindless tasks (whatever keeps you busy). Doing jumping jacks in the kitchen. Dancing in the living room, pretending it’s for fun, when really it’s a choreographed routine of desperation, trying to tire out the thoughts stuck in your head. 

It’s silent anxiety attacks, hidden by smiles.

It’s always being busy but also always avoiding, so important things don’t get done. It’s letting things pile up rather than admitting you’re overwhelmed or in need of help.

It’s that sharp pang of saying the wrong thing, the one that starts the cycles of thoughts. Because you said too much, and nobody cares, and it makes you never want to speak up again.

Mental Health Rates for Youth in our Region

What is the state of youth mental health on Southern Vancouver Island and in BC?

  • “21% of local [Southern Vancouver Island] students had at least one mental health condition. Females were more likely than males to have at least one condition (25% vs. 16%) and to have multiple conditions (10% vs. 4%)” (South Vancouver Island Results of the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey, 2014, p. 4).
  • “Just under half of homeless or street-involved youth [in BC] rated their mental health as good or excellent (49%). Males were more likely than females to rate their mental health as excellent (23% vs. 10%), while females were more likely to rate it as poor (19% vs. 8%)” (Our Communities, Our Youth, 2015, p. 31).
  • “Among youth currently in care [in BC], females rated their mental health more poorly than males (36% vs. 23% of males rated their mental health as fair or poor), which was consistent with the gender difference among all youth who completed the BC AHS. Youth in care were more likely than their peers to report having a mental or emotional health condition (17% vs. 10% of youth not in care)” (We All Have A Role, 2015, p. 20).
  • “Youth [on Southern Vancouver Island] most commonly reported having Depression (10%), Anxiety Disorder (10%), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; 7%), and/or an addiction to alcohol or other drugs (2%). Females were more likely to have Depression or Anxiety Disorder, whereas males were more likely to report ADHD. Most students (85%) reported feeling stressed in the past month. Females were three times as likely as males to experience extreme stress that prevented them from functioning properly. Students were also asked the extent to which they felt so sad, discouraged or hopeless that they wondered if anything was worthwhile. Fifty percent reported feeling some level of despair in the past month” (South Vancouver Island Results of the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey, 2014, p. 15).
  • “When [Southern Vancouver Island youth] were asked about specific mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, a higher percentage reported having such a condition than recognized that they had a mental or emotional health condition” (South Vancouver Island Results of the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey, 2014, p. 11).
  • “More than two thirds of [homeless and street-involved youth (68%; 62% of males vs. 72% of females) reported having at least one specific mental health condition. Also, 24% reported having a behavioural condition (19% of males vs. 29% of females), and 26% indicated having problems with anger. Youth most commonly reported having been told by a health professional that they had Depression (31% of males vs. 60% of females). Females were also more likely to have Chronic Anxiety Disorder or panic attacks (38% vs.13% of males), Bipolar Disorder (20% vs. 7%), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD; 24% vs. 8%), and an eating disorder (28% vs. 9%). Males were more likely than females to report having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; 31% vs. 20%). Compared to 2006, a greater percentage of youth reported having Depression (47% vs. 23% in 2006), Chronic Anxiety Disorder or panic attacks (27% vs. 10%), and Schizophrenia (6% vs. 4%). Increases among female youth were also seen in PTSD (24% in 2014 vs. 8% in 2006) and Bipolar Disorder (20% vs. 8%)” (Our Communities, Our Youth, 2015, p. 32).
  • “Males and females with care experience [in BC] were more likely than their peers who were never in care to report extreme levels of stress (20% vs. 9%) and despair (19% vs. 7%) in the past month, to the point where they could not function properly. Youth previously in care were more likely than those currently in care to report these extreme levels” (We All Have A Role, 2015, p. 21).
  • “Most [homeless and street-involved] youth (88%) felt some level of stress in the past month, with 15% of males and 24% of females feeling so stressed that they could not work or deal with things. Youth were also asked the extent to which they felt so sad, discouraged, or hopeless that they wondered if anything was worthwhile. More than 7 in 10 youth (72%) felt this way at least sometimes in the past month, with 1 in 10 reporting feeling so much despair that they could not function properly” (Our Communities, Our Youth, 2015, p. 33).
  • “Youth with [government] care experience [in BC] were more likely than their peers to rate their mental health as fair or poor (as opposed to good or excellent). Those previously in care were more likely than those currently in care to rate their mental health this way.” (We All Have A Role, 2015, p. 19).

Self-harm & Suicidality

  • “In the past year, 8% of local males and 22% of females reported cutting or injuring themselves on purpose without trying to kill themselves” (South Vancouver Island Results of the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey, 2014, p. 16).
  • Among Southern Vancouver Island youth, “eight percent of males and 15% of females seriously thought about killing themselves in the past year…, 4% of males and 7% of females reported attempting suicide in the past year” (South Vancouver Island Results of the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey, 2014, p. 16).
  • “Males and females in care [in BC] in the past year were more likely than their peers without this experience to have cut or injured themselves on purpose without trying to kill themselves during that time period (31% vs,. 15%) and to have done so multiple times (24% vs. 10%). They were also more likely to have seriously thought about suicide in the past year (19% vs. 6%).” (We All Have A Role, 2015, p. 22).
  • “Youth who had previously been in care [in BC] were more likely than those currently in care to have self-harmed, seriously thought about killing themselves, or to have attempted suicide in the past 12 months” (We All Have A Role, 2015, p. 22).
  • “Forty-five percent of [homeless or street-involved] youth (23% of males vs. 61% of females) cut or injured themselves on purpose without trying to kill themselves (self-harmed) in the past year. The percentage of males who had ever self-harmed was similar to 2006, while females were more likely to have done so (75% in 2014 vs. 55% in 2006)” (Our Communities, Our Youth, 2015, p. 33).
  • Homeless or street-involved “youth most commonly reported that they most recently self-harmed because they felt lonely or depressed. Among youth who self-harmed, females were more likely to indicate self-harming because they felt lonely or depressed (80% vs. 53% of males), stressed (62% vs. 40%), or because they wanted to feel in control (34% vs. 12%)” (Our Communities, Our Youth, 2015, p. 34).
  • Among homeless and street-involved youth 68% “(62% of males vs. 72% of females) reported having at least one mental health condition, 42% had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and almost a third (31%) had attempted suicide” (Our Communities, Our Youth, 2015, p. 8).

Sources

 

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