Mike Young began suffering from depression at the age if 12, followed by anxiety, paranoia and delusions.
“It took me awhile to get help and it took me a long time to recover,” said the Vancouver resident. Young now travels around the province educating youth on psychosis and other mental illnesses. He and other professionals in a program called ReachOut Psychosis will be performing at Ballenas Secondary Nov. 30.
The performance will feature Vancouver band Proud Animal, comedy by Barbara Adler, interactive information and lots of prizes.
ReachOut was developed and is managed by the BC Schizophrenia Society and is funded by BC Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Psychosis is a serious and treatable brain condition affecting three per cent of youth aged 16 – 25. A person suffering from this illness may experience some loss of contact with reality in which they change their thinking, believing, perceiving and/or behaving, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association website.
ReachOut presents information about the illness in a fun and interactive way meant to counter stereotypes and misinformation around it and other mental illnesses.
Young was initially hired to play in the band that performs at the show and after a couple years he felt ready to talk about his experiences suffering from psychosis and how he got help. He said it’s important youth know that mental illnesses are medical conditions and need to be treated as soon as possible.
“It’s just a condition of your brain as opposed to a condition of your body,” he said. “If you break your arm you need to have it fixed, if you’re suffering from depression or psychosis or schizophrenia you need to treat your brain.”
Young said the most rewarding part for him about presenting in the program is returning to schools a year or two after a show and seeing improvements. Some youth relay that the show encouraged them to get help and they now lead better lives. The ReachOut team wants to reach as many youth as possible, Young explained, before some choose to self medicate or worse, suicide.
ReachOut Psychosis will be touring high schools and middle schools on Vancouver Island Nov. 26 – 30. For more information visit www.reachoutpsychosis.com.