By Janell Kachuik, Co-chair – Young Worker Committee (YWC)

The SEIU-West Young Workers Committee (YWC) is shining a light on issues that often get pushed into the shadows and aims to break down stigma associated with important issues in our communities.

Mental health and addiction are topics that people don’t like to talk about due to the stigma around them, but we need to stop fearing it and start embracing it. As Canadians, 1 in 5 experience a mental illness or addiction problem. Roughly 50% of individuals with severe mental disorders are affected by substance use. We have to stop believing that mental health and addictions are just going to get better without treatment.

Young people are more likely to experience mental health and substance use disorder than any other age group. The question is, how can we help? Don’t give up on them, make sure that they know they are loved – sometimes they have to hit rock bottom before they get help.

I’m one of those young people. My name is Janell – I’m the Co-Chair of the SEIU-West Young Workers Committee (YWC) and I suffer from depression and anxiety. It started in high school and it was really bad. I started to cut – first it was on my legs so people couldn’t see but then I started to cut my wrist – to me it was a way to release what I was feeling because when I cut it took my pain away for a little bit. I had stopped but then I started working in a workplace where I was the only person under the age of 30 and was feeling isolated. The way I would cover it up is wearing long sleeve clothing and if someone would ask me about it, I would say I fell.

In 2015 it got really bad. A year when I should have been happy and enjoying life. But in October my life changed and I started cutting. I wasn’t able to sleep. I wasn’t talking or being myself. I finally decided to end things, but with the help of my family and friends I’m still here. They started to see the signs, and told me to get help – my family had to tell me that they didn’t want a headstone, they wanted me.

The first step was to get a doctor to listen, and this doctor took me off work and then made it so I couldn’t be alone. The doctor started me on medications, and with the help of my mother I was able to get into counselling. I started going twice a week then I went to three times a week – one session was one-on-one and the other was in a group setting.

There are things you can do to get on the road to recovery. With the right support, self-help and treatment, you can overcome a re-occurring disorder, reclaim your sense of self and get your life back on track. What’s important is that we’re creating a supportive environment where people know they can ask for help.

If you need support, call 211 or go to to find mental health and addictions support services across Saskatchewan.

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