Pandemic unifying young people in Thunder Bay on mental health action

Press release

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO — The pandemic has elevated mental health as a key issue for young Canadians in Thunder Bay-Superior North. Isolation, uncertainty, fear, and economic worries are all contributing to deteriorating mental health. Most Canadians indicate that the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, nd 80% of Ontarians believe that there will be a serious mental health crisis post-pandemic. Young people in Thunder Bay-Superior North came together digitally on May 10th to share their stories and ask politicians from across the political spectrum to do more to tackle this issue.

“I know that the pandemic has only compounded a lot of my preexisting struggles, as well as presenting many challenges to otherwise mentally healthy Canadians; no one should have to suffer because they are unable to obtain the help that they need ,” said Zoe Dubec, a volunteer with the nonpartisan nonprofit Future Majority, during the event.

“It’s so frustrating to see [friends] struggle when I know their lives could be easier if they had access to mental healthcare that met their specific needs,” another volunteer, Erin Kielt, added in agreement. “[They] should not have to pay for therapy and medication, so they can focus on finishing school and starting their careers without the financial bur- den they currently have to take care of their mental health.”

Future Majority volunteers in Thunder Bay-Superior North have engaged hundreds of youth to rally support for action on mental health. Through petitions, social media, meetings with local politicians, and innovative digital house parties—20 young people have taken direct action to ask their local politicians to prioritize mental health.

“Having politicians and representatives from all 4 of the major political parties sit down with us and sign this cross- partisan letter is so important because it shows that our political leaders are responsive and can put aside their political differences to tackle pressing problems like the mental health crisis in Canada,” said Ishan Sharma, one of the chapter’s Regional Directors.

In addition, Future Major- ity’s Thunder Bay-Superior North’s five coalition partners all offered their perspective on why the issue of mental health- care affordability in Canada is important to their organization. It is clear there is a need for better, and a wider variety of mental healthcare services in our community.

The Honourable Patty Haj- du, Canada’s Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North emphasized the importance of

prioritizing mental health. “Future Majority is doing important work to get young people involved in politics. This meeting on mental health will be an important conversa- tion at a critical time … I know we must continue our work to support Canadians struggling with their mental health, and I thank these young people for furthering the conversation on mental health in our com-

Additionally, Thunder Bay-

Superior North NDP EDA ex- ecutive members, Lise Vau- geois and Joy Wakefield, dem- onstrated their support of the initiative, citing the following: “The NDP is committed to doing this important cross-par- tisan work now so that people can access mental health sup- ports that are so desperately needed. Equally important as we move forward, will be ad- dressing the systemic causes that are leading to such nega- tive mental health outcomes.”

Mental illness indirectly af- fects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend, or colleague. And every year, one in five Candians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.

Future Majority is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organi- zation that aims to amplify the voices of young Canadians so every candidate, politician, and party is an advocate for youth priorities.