Students and other young people across CK and Walpole Island First Nation have a new tool to use for understanding their feelings and communicating those feelings to others.
The Name It, Don’t Numb It rainbow bracelets have been sent to classrooms and outreach organizations throughout the municipality to distribute to students as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
The multihued bracelets help fill a need that has only grown in the past year and a half. A recent study conducted by the University of Calgary and published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics found that an estimated one in four youth globally are experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms, while one in five have clinically elevated symptoms of anxiety.
The bracelet comes with a colour wheel that each wearer can fill in themselves, giving every section on their bracelet their own unique meaning. For some, red may mean angry while for others, it may symbolize excitement. And in a time when so much uncertainty has been part of young people’s daily lives, being able to name these feelings and decide what the bracelet means to them helps give them back some of the power and security the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken away.
“The hardest part (of all this) has been not knowing what any given day will bring,” says Michelle* a grade 11 student in the Lambton-Kent District School Board. “So it’s hard to not feel anxious, to just keep feeling positive. And it’s (the months of lockdown) also been so boring.”
The bracelets were developed in conjunction with the Mental Health Social Planning and Action (SPA) Table, which is made up of representatives from 17 local social services and organizations as well as community members living with mental illness. Margery Muharrem sits on the table as a representative of United Way of Chatham-Kent and said the idea for the bracelets came to life as the group talked about the importance of destigmatizing mental health, especially for our youth.
“Giving students a way to start the conversation is an important step in opening up about mental health. These bracelets will do just that.”
*Names of minors have been changed
If you or a loved one need youth mental health support, please reach out. ACCESS Open Minds (for ages 11-25): 519-437-6329 Walpole Island Health Centre: 519-627-0765 Delaware Nation Health Centre: 1-866-331-4033 LGBTQ Youth Line: 1-800-268-9688 Chatham-Kent Children’s Services: 519-352-0440 Mental Health Network of Chatham-Kent: 519-351-3100 Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA): 1-855-211-2642 Crisis line (24/7): 1-866-299-7447 Kids Help Phone (24/7): 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868 Ontario 2-1-1