October 19, 2017 12:57 am
Updated: October 19, 2017 1:51 am

Kelowna teen honoured for mental health advocacy


Finn Pihl began speaking publicly about his battle with mental illness when he was 11.

He was eight when anxiety and depression made him withdraw from what he loved to do in life.

His courage has helped others face their own struggles and helped raise money for Foundry Kelowna, a mental wellness hub for people under 25.

Now 14, the Okanagan teen is traveling to Vancouver to receive an award for his work as an advocate.

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has named Finn as one of the 150 Leading Canadians for Mental Health.

He has also been nominated in Kelowna for a Community Leader Award in the ‘Courage’ category.

“I’m so excited. It’s going to be one of those experiences I really remember,” Finn said of his trip to receive his award Thursday.

“I think he’s phenomenal,” his mother Jody Pihl said. “It’s hard as a mother to know if you’re objective or not but I think what he does is pretty incredible and it’s pretty unique. I know I’ve been told many times it has created a huge impact.”

The teen believes the Foundry can better offer mental health services to youth.

“The problem with finding help for mental illness is it takes a long time to see the right person,” Finn said. “With the Foundry, it will happen a lot more efficiently and quickly.”

His mother believes society is at a tipping point where mental health issues are finally front and center instead of being a shameful subject.

“I remember my grandparents didn’t talk about cancer and most people are comfortable sharing diagnosis of cancer now and mental health will get there,” Jody said. “I think we’re just starting to get there now. I think we’re at the very beginning of that time in history.”

Both mother and son believe the award he is receiving is on behalf of the entire community who has been fighting for mental health support both through speaking up and donating money to build centre’s like the Foundry.

“There’s been a lot of generous people in this town who have stepped up given generously,” Jody said.

The Phil family were leaders in the Not Alone campaign to raise $2 million for Foundry Kelowna.

Finn hopes his story motivates others to seek support toward mental wellness.

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