How a group of Montrealers is reaching out to help as pandemic takes a toll on mental health
MONTREAL -- The pandemic has taken a toll on many young Montrealers' mental health but a group behind a mental health service wants them to know that help is available.
Before the pandemic started, the Chabad Lifeline was already busy. Starting as an addiction treatment centre, it has since grown to include family counselling and mental health services. With isolation and loneliness a huge concern, the lifeline's youth ambassadors want to reach out.
Some, like Emmy Zemel, know firsthand the cost of mental illness.
“I personally lost my dad to his mental illness seven years ago. I was very fortunate to have been educated on the importance of mental health from a young age and, unfortunately, I don't think a lot of young people have that privilege,” she said.
The service is hoping to reach out to young people via social media.
“I would get together with a friend and we would just, literally, put out a little video telling people how they're not alone,” said Marina Barr. “It started off like that and I think the first turning point was how someone came up to me and they were like 'I want to thank you.'”
Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger said the lifeline has seen increased demand since the pandemic began.
“We're clearly in the midst of a second pandemic, one of mental health and addiction because after kids have been glued to their screens for over a year, they're not going tout with their friends, they're not socializing the same way,” he said.
Next week the Chabad Lifeline will begin a new Instagram campaign targeting young adults between 18 and 24. The goal is to raise awareness of their services and push back against the stigma of mental illness.
“The stigma is 100 per cent real and I always said it's such a hard decision for someone suffering to make the decision to seek help in the first place,” said Zemel. “It's why it's so amazing there are these amazing resources out there.”