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Youth volunteers in Nanaimo organize mental health workshop series

Youth 20/20 Can hosting Zoom calls for young people aged 15-29
Youth 20/20 Can Nanaimo members, waving signs on the Norwell Drive pedestrian overpass last month, implore passing motorists to think about mental health. Youth 20/20 Can has organized a mental health workshop series to be held via Zoom from Feb. 10-March 17. (Photo courtesy Youth 20/20 Can)

Youths in Nanaimo want to talk about mental health and are opening up lines of communication over the coming weeks.

Youth 20/20 Can Nanaimo, a group of young volunteers in the community, are bringing back their Living in Colour youth mental wellness workshop series via Zoom from Thursday, Feb. 10, through March 17.

Hayley Wiersma, a member of Youth 20/20 Can and an organizer of the series, said last year’s workshops were successful as they attracted as many as 40 participants for some of the Zoom calls. This year’s topics – chosen by Youth 20/20 Can Nanaimo members in consultation with other chapters – include child PTSD and trauma; anxiety; coping skills, self-care and compassion; keeping active for mental health; body types, it’s OK; and community engagement, awareness and battling stigma.

“These are topics that youths wanted to see happen,” Wiersma said. “It’s really exciting that we’re reaching out to youths and figuring out what they’re dealing with or what they want to learn more about and how to deal with it.”

One of the workshops she’s most interested in is the series finale March 17, when Canadian Mental Health Association resource development coordinator Lauren Sykes will speak about stigma.

“Just talking about mental health is so huge, so I’m looking forward to how that goes and what the speaker has to say about community engagement and what we can do to raise more awareness,” Wiersma said. “I think that we still need more work in the health-care field for mental health and more resources, but I think people are considering it and thinking about it and actually recognizing that it does affect people and it does affect a lot of people.”

Youth 20/20 Can members recently did a sign-wave on the Norwell Drive pedestrian overpass promoting the message that ‘mental health matters’ and Wiersma said it was a “cool experience” to garner so much support that day.

“That was really good to see and kind of eye-opening…” she said. “Either those people were honking because they’ve dealt with mental health issues or they know that it does matter.”

The workshop series will happen every Thursday between Feb. 10 and March 17 at 7 p.m. on Zoom and is open to young people aged 15-29. The meeting ID is 880 9676 2059 and the passcode is youth2020. For more information, e-mail

READ ALSO: Nanaimo youth club organizes mental health workshops for young people

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About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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