Art exhibit at Legislature looks at youth mental health issues

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Using art to express their experiences with addiction, a group of Winnipeg high school students marked the third National Child and Youth Mental Health Day by displaying their work at the Provincial Legislative Building.

Around 20 Argyle Alternative students presented visual art, poetry, video projects and models, all aimed at highlighting addiction and mental health issues.

“It’s relatable,” said 12th grader Ricki-Lynn Crain, whose dual work of drawing and poetry depicts an individual in shadow and then facing light.

Addiction and mental health are more complex than superficial looks show, and many people have experienced some type of problem, Crain suggested.


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Maia Kasian’s artwork was displayed at the Manitoba Legislative Building to mark the third National Child and Youth Mental Health Day. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press)

“People can be addicted to the negative parts of themselves, because sometimes that’s all we’ve ever known.”

Being part of the exhibit for Youth Mental Health Day, which Manitoba proclaimed provincially last year to be recognized every May 7, is of great significance, Crain said.

“It is because it means we are heard and our voices are strong.”

When asked what they would like to see improved in the future, Grade 12 student Ethan McInnes said it is so important to ask young people how they are doing. McInnes’ artwork depicted a literally breathtaking moment – an example of their efforts to quit smoking.

“I never talked about any of my struggles until someone asked me about it. Someone finally asked how I was doing, and it really changed how I felt about it. it’s important to talk to young people about how they feel and what they want,” McInnes said.


Some of the artwork by students from Argyle Alternative High School on display at the Manitoba Legislative Building.  (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press)

Some of the artwork by students from Argyle Alternative High School on display at the Manitoba Legislative Building. (Mikaela MacKenzie/Winnipeg Free Press)

“A lot of our young people feel like they’re not being heard or it’s not important what they have to say, (like) we’re too young to know what life is like right now, but that’s not true. Our generation today has some of the toughest mental health issues, and for them…to give us a day when we can be recognized is amazing.”

Rosetta Troia, full-time addictions counselor at Argyle Alternative for the Winnipeg School Division, said art-making and journaling are often part of mental health and addictions therapy, and the outlet creative helps students learn and make changes.

“These kids are amazing,” she said. “They want to be heard. They care about their friends, they care about their family.

“So if we give them the right information, it’s the kids who are going to do it for us. They’re going to make the change and hopefully reduce suicide and overdose rates,” Troia said, adding that the young people still need more. mental health resources.

“So when they finally say to a parent or guardian, ‘I need help,’ they won’t go somewhere being turned away because we don’t have enough beds.”

The exhibit is presented in the Rotunda of the Legislative Building, in partnership with the KidThink Mental Health Centre.

Radisson MP James Teistma replaced Mental Health and Community Wellbeing Minister Sarah Guillemard at Friday’s event.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Katie May

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