Better health and healing for teens with mental illness

Strengthening mental health services -

The world can be a stressful and threatening place for many teens, and especially for those with mental health challenges.

Through Health PEI’s INSIGHT program, a group of trained and concerned professionals is offering these Prince Edward Island youth aged 13 to 18 a chance at health and healing. The young clients named the program themselves.

INSIGHT is an acronym for “In New Strength I Gain Hope Today".

“This program is designed to work with young people who come to us with complex problems and to help them to learn how to live with their illnesses,” said Dr. Jacqueline Goodwin, a clinical psychologist and INSIGHT program team lead. “We can work with medication, community supports, and family environment.”

Goodwin says they aim to help teens deal with complex challenges including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and psychosis. She began designing the program in May 2016, accepting her first intake of youth that November.

Teens can be referred voluntarily by community mental health clinicians, youth addictions services, psychiatrists, or pediatricians. Their parents or guardians are expected to participate right alongside them.

In groups of eight to 10 at a time, the youth take part in a full-day program that includes group work, individual counseling, schooling, and work on strategies that can lead to more stable lives and better outcomes. It can focus on following medication instructions, proper sleep hygiene, good nutrition, and recognizing the signs of stresses or problems that could lead to a crisis.

“This program is intensive,” Goodwin said. “It expects a lot of people in terms of participation and working to make their lives better. We can work with the youth here, and we will also work with their home environment and their school environment to help support them.”

Goodwin said she knows for a fact that INSIGHT has helped young people to  manage their illnesses, to avoid crises, and to move away from harmful behaviours.

“Nobody is here who doesn’t want to be. We’re here to work with them and to help them find ways of taking care of this illness – and make better lives for themselves.”

Get more information on the INSIGHT Program for Youth.

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