“Name one thing about yourself that you’re proud of.”

It’s one of the first things our health centre staff ask youth when doing intake at Covenant House. It’s a small but important reminder of the resilience and worth everyone has.

But self-pride and strength can feel far away when struggling with a history of trauma and abuse, which often results in mental health struggles.

Maria, our mental health and substance use counsellor, connects with youth about their self-worth and the value of accepting support.

“[Youth who come to Covenant House] have usually been hurt so many times that it can be terrifying when someone shows they care. They may have heard that tape of ‘You’re not worth it’ their whole life. Our job is to replace it with, ‘Yes, absolutely, you are worth it.’”

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In 2019, nearly 33 per cent of youth came to the health centre to get support with mental health. Diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health conditions, trauma, the emotional stress of leaving or being kicked out of home and the vulnerability of having nowhere to turn are constant issues for the youth who use our mental health services.

Elisa, registered nurse and manager of our on-site BensKids Health Centre says, “Being homeless is a trauma in itself.”

Covenant House also has an occupational therapist to support youth. Maya coordinates her efforts with the health team and youth workers to provide another dimension to healing: how to find purpose in life through meaningful activity.

Last month, World Mental Health Day and World Homelessness Day fell on the same day. To help raise awareness and show the links between the issues, we made a video of Maya sharing her perspective on occupational therapy.

Watch the full video: