Helping teenagers cope with mental illness

Teens In Control provides education and peer support

Private donations have come forward to assist the funding-strapped BC Schizophrenia Society office in Kelowna after its programs and services were threatened with closure last November.

One of those donations came from the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation, a grant for $10,000 which has been specifically targeted for the Teens In Control education and support program, a reflection of Pacific Blue Cross having 18,000 members living in Kelowna.

Started as a pilot project last year, Teens In Control offers peer support to teenagers generally between ages 13 and 17 who have parents or other loved ones dealing with mental illness.

Related: Kelowna schizophrenia society branch could close

BCSS volunteer Andrea Hess said a second session is planned to start up in March.

Hess said her teenage son and daughter went through the eight-meeting program last year, as she deals with anxiety and depression issues.

“They both got a lot out of it. My daughter was 11 so she was a little bit on the younger end but we put her in into it as well.”

Hess, a volunteer with the BCSS branch in Kelowna, said the importance of Teens In Control is to continue knocking down the negative social stigmas surrounding mental illness and peer support, while addressing the needs of a teenage group that often doesn’t get much support—those living with or around others suffering from mental illness.

“The peer support aspect is crucial,” she said. “For youth just having the opportunity to interact with their peers sharing the same kinds of experiences can be just as effective as working with mental health care professionals.

“It’s getting better as more teenagers start talking about mental illness in their lives. There is a lot more awareness, people are talking about it more. But there is still lots of stigma, shame and misinformation out there as well.”

She said BCSS offers Teens In Control in other communities but up until last year it was not available in Kelowna. The local society branch is also working with Foundry youth health referral service in Kelowna to help funnel youth seeking help towards the program.

While it is based on Kelowna, she said enrolment is open to youth from neighbouring communities.

“We’ve had people come from as far away as Merritt to participate in our family programs,” Hess said.

For more information or to register for Teens In Control, visit the BCSS website or visit the Foundry at 100-1815 Kirschner Rd.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fraser Institute school evaluation report criticized

Central Okanagan School District says school assessment test results flawed

Cleanup scheduled for massive dump site near Peachland

The Okanagan Forestry Task Force is cleaning up an illegal dump site near

Traffic being redirected due to grass fire on Drought Hill

Crews responded to a grass fire on Highway 97 and 97C

Lake Country uses bylaw enforcement to try and stop Airport Inn’s operations

Bylaw enforcement is ongoing, said the district community development manager

Pizza places help make dreams come true

The fourth annual Papa John’s Dreams for Kids Day is held today in Kelowna and West Kelowna

Former Social Credit MLA dies at 88

Lyall Hanson was mayor of Vernon in 1981 and moved to provincial politics from 1986-96

Ailing health care biggest hurdle for Okanagan jail

PART SIX: Inmates reportedly wait weeks for broken bones to be seen, challenges with maintaining medical staff

Police searching for escaped prisoner in B.C.

Ralph Whitfield Morris, 83, is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder

B.C. set to introduce pot laws, but years of fine tuning likely: minister

Legislation regulating recreational marijuana is expected to be introduced Thursday

International Parkour Competition coming to B.C. city

Canada’s largest outdoor Parkour park only Canadian stop on North American tour

Accused murderer found guilty in unrelated Penticton robbery

McGenn sentenced to 5 years, now faces 2nd-degree murder trial over Abbotsford man’s 2016 death

Canadian driver uses lawn chair as driver’s seat, gets caught

Ontario police detachment caught the male driver during a traffic stop

B.C. moves to restrict pill presses in opioid battle

Minister Mike Farnworth says federal law doesn’t go far enough

Most Read