Support workers at the iHuman Youth Society in Edmonton say — perhaps not surprisingly — they’ve seen an increase in youth needing help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of it comes down to the mental health — needing support there,” said Sean Arceta, a social worker with the centre. “Discovering new ways of finding outlets, finding ways to keep their minds busy that are creative and constructive.
“There’s a lot more need for support in mental health.”
That issue isn’t confined to just the youth — physicians in Alberta have also said there’s been an increase in patients needing mental health help over the past year.
Arceta said the non-profit iHuman is unique in that not only does it offer services and programs that can help with jobs, housing and medical needs, but it also focuses on art-based healing.
“We focus on the arts here, to get young people to be creative,” he said. “Engaging them with opportunities in the community as well, whether that’s creative, whether it’s to focus more on whatever they need in that moment.
Sanderina Twin, an artist and support worker at the centre, said she actually started going there when she was a youth.
“I definitely see iHuman as a huge community builder,” Twin said. “It’s definitely bringing people together, especially the young people who might not have the greatest attention span.
“It’s [like a] flame for the moths. It’s bringing in the youth and it’s definitely engaging with them.”
The centre says that over 500 local youths between the ages of 12 to 24 access its services and supports each year. Of those who rely on iHuman, 80 per cent of them identify as Indigenous.
Twin said as an artist who was initially encouraged to follow her passions by the staff at the centre, she is glad to pass along that experience .
“Being able to have that power to really invoke the youth into coming around and taking part in these different outlets is extremely important,” she said.
The centre is also hosting a drive-thru donation drive on April 1 from noon until 4 p.m., in its parking lot at 9635 -102A Ave.
Some needed items are new and gently used clothing and toiletries. Donations can also be made on the organization’s website.