In Their Own Words

An open letter: Please support our youth in rewriting our narrative

To Whom It May Concern,

The state of mental wellbeing of the young adult demographic poses a public health concern, and yet it seems that this group – our future leaders – are being neglected by current systems.

I know this for a fact because as a twentysomething year old, I experienced first-hand my own health decline during my undergraduate studies. While it started spiraling downhill just slightly before COVID-19, the pandemic amplified and expedited its rhythm to a state of “in crisis,” and it seemed that no immediate, cost effective and personalized help was available to get me back on track to “thriving.”

Up until this inflection point in my own life trajectory, I never fathomed that I would ever experience rock bottom of a mental-health condition. All through K-12, I was a straight A student, held executive leadership positions on practically every school council, accumulated hundreds of volunteer hours, and was that eager, ambitious and motivated leader who had no doubt that the world was her oyster.

So, how it is possible that I went from that version of myself in which I was on top of the world, to a state of darkness in my third year of university studies, in which I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, suffered from extreme depression and lost all motivation, meaning and purpose in life?

The system failed me.

It allowed this to happen to me.

How do I know this path could have been avoided for me? And for hundreds – if not thousands – of other young adults who experienced similar mental-health challenges?

Because the necessary preventative measures were not put in place to avert the snowball effect of accumulating mental distress.

Lacking the support I needed, I was forced to fend for myself, and managed to escape the grasp of my eating disorder by educating myself on topics such as neuroscience, positive psychology and evolutionary biology that allowed me to better understand my body and mind.

Witnessing first-hand my own transformation that was initiated by the empowerment I experienced in educating myself on these subjects, I stand firm in my belief that health literacy serves as a fundamental building block for empowering individuals to master their futures, and that it should be a public health priority to mandate these teachings to youth within the education system.

Dear policymakers, public health professionals, and Canadian leaders, I urge you to please support the youth of today and tomorrow by taking affirmative action to amend the academic curriculum to prioritize health literacy with a focus on brain science and mental health education. This health promotion intervention will empower our youth with the tools to elevate their emotional intelligence, unlock their unique human potential and show up as their best possible selves for themselves, their families, their friends, their communities – and their Canada.

All change starts with self-awareness, so let’s take that first step together in helping our youth rewrite their narrative.

Yours sincerely,

Clara Lachman

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Clara Lachman

Wilfrid Laurier University – Alummni
Waterloo, Ontario

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