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YMCA offering free program to help address anxiety for youth

Stress and anxiety are two things that just about every teen and young adult dealt with for the last three years of the pandemic.

Uncertainty of whether they would be able to attend classes, or the issues the pandemic has put on family life and friendships, has caused many young Calgarians to see a decline in their mental health.

The YMCA Calgary is offering free programming to help teens aged 13 through 18, and young adults aged 19 through 30, that are suffering from mild to moderate amounts of stress and anxiety.

“Really what this program is, is helping them learn coping skills to really be able to put a name to what they’re feeling, and then learn how to deal with those feelings,” said Tanya Connelly-Scott, VP Experience, YMCA Calgary.

“As we know, the last three years were incredibly disruptive to all our lives, but especially for young people.”

The Y Mind program is being held at five YMCA locations across Calgary, and at the Forest Lawn Library branch, covering all quadrants of the city.

“Forest Lawn, we know probably is a bit of a vacuum for access to one of our recreation facilities, so we’ve partnered with the library to offer it there as it might not be as easy for those youth to get to a YMCA,” Connelly-Scott said.

The program is being funded through grants from the Government of Alberta, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Free YMCA membership alongside free program

The program runs once a week for seven weeks, following an intake session that pairs a potential attendee with a healthcare professional to ensure that the program is right for them. A formal diagnosis of anxiety is not required to apply for Y Mind.

The lessons are taught over seven weeks, and in the free book given to participants, cover a variety of mental health topics.

“They are taught a variety of different mindfulness activities, and learning skills, where they can take that moment and go kind of into themselves to learn how to deal with the physical effects of stress and anxiety,” said Connelly-Scott.

“For the seven weeks that they’re participating, they get a free Y memberships so that they can come in and exercise and be around people, all things that we know also help with stress and anxiety.”

The program also offers youth and young adults a safe place, potentially away from family members and classmates to address mental health issues.

According to the YMCA, the ideal situation for attendees is one in which siblings do not attend the same class. Parents likewise are not able to attend either the intake session or the classes.

For more information on the Y Mind program, see the YMCA’s website at www.ymcacalgary.org/y-mind-mental-wellness-program.