NEWS

StressHacks website launched

Aims to support mental health in children and youth

StressHacks website launch
Healthy Living and Seniors Minister Deanne Crothers (left) and Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre chief executive officer Marg Synyshyn were joined at the launch of StressHacks by Griffin Jenkins, who is one of the youth whose feedback helped develop the website.

BY SUSIE STRACHAN
Winnipeg Health Region
Published Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Children and youth seeking help for stress and other mental health conditions and illnesses now have access to a new website.

The StressHacks website is geared toward children and youth between the ages of 10 and 24.

It provides quick suggestions - hacks - that will help individuals to decide if and when they need help, how to find help, and offers self-help tips and resources, according to Marg Synyshyn, chief executive officer of the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre (MATC).

MATC developed the content and design with feedback from partners such as Healthy Child Manitoba, self-help groups, service providers and youth, among others.

"The website is aimed at youth, and uses language they understand,” says Synyshyn, adding that coping with stress is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sheer amount of content that the site contains.

"We ran this through focus groups with youth, and they all identified stress at the basis for further mental illness, such as depression or suicidal ideation. But they didn't want to see those heavier topics on the main page of the site. They wanted to see a link to where they could find help immediately, and also a self-check function that would help pinpoint how quickly they need that help.”

The site, which is part of the provincial government's $2-million investment in a comprehensive, multi-year children and youth mental health strategy, assists users to locate a range of local and provincial mental health supports and services by providing links, resources and a Services Map (with a geo-locator) developed by Manitoba eHealth.

One in five Canadians will experience mental illness at some point in their lives, said Healthy Living and Seniors Minister Deanne Crothers at the launch on Oct. 5. "Not only does this website provide information, but it opens up dialogue, which helps deal with the stigma associated with mental illness," said Crothers, adding the timing of the launch places it as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 4 to 10 in Manitoba.

There has been a dearth of online information for youth, parents, educators and others when it comes to finding local and provincial mental health supports and services for young Manitobans, says Synyshyn. "There are several hundred links to top provincial and Canadian websites that all have a wealth of information on mental health in youth. Parents, guardians and teachers have been asking us for these.”

Work on the website began two years ago, says Synyshyn. "We did focus groups with children, youth, their parents, their teachers, in both city and rural locations, and including First Nations groups,” she says, adding that First Nations youth in particular will benefit from the geo-locator which will point them to support within their home communities.

MATC will continue to improve the website's contents, and is still seeking input from partners such as Family Services and Corrections.

To learn more, visit StressHacks at www.stresshacks.ca.

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