The Mood Disorders Association of BC has launched a new campaign to raise awareness about depression in young people. What Helps, What Hurts aims to de-stigmatize conversations about depression and low mood.

“The idea is to get young people to be able to recognize the signs of depression and to reach out to friends and talk openly about what depression is, how it’s affecting people and how to get help,” says spokesperson Polly Guetta.

She says young people who suffer from low mood and depression are most likely to talk to a friend about their experiences first, before speaking to a parent, teacher or other adult. What Helps, What Hurts hopes to give young people the tools to recognize depression in themselves and their peers.

“In research it shows that they don’t have a high level of mental health literacy. They might be experiencing a lot of symptoms but they might just brush it off and not realize that it is a medical illness and that help is available.”

Depression affects 1 in 8 Canadians and 70% of those affected experience their first major depressive episode in adolescence or early adulthood.

Youth are encouraged to share their experiences via the #whathelpswhathurts hashtag and features hundreds of posters on BC Transit as well as a downloadable guide.

“It’s an illustrated guide, small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s a 4-step guide to helping a friend who is struggling with low mood or depression. We have some different examples of things to say and things that are not helpful to say and that’s where the What Helps, What Hurts title came from.”

The guides can also be picked up at local mental health centres.