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Loneliness and Youth

Alone for the Holidays

A youth story shared by a CHV Drop-In Centre youth worker. Names and identifying details have been changed for privacy reasons.

I first met Clinton at our Drop-In Centre when he came in with another young person. Having another youth introduce him to me helped make the relationship building process a bit easier.

I didn’t seen Clinton at all during the holidays. After the holidays, he came to the Drop-In Centre and asked if he could join me at my table. I was excited for the opportunity to catch up.

I asked Clinton how his holidays went. He told me that he was facing a potentially serious diagnosis and had spent the holidays in the hospital.

What really upset Clinton was that none of his friends had come to visit him while he was in the hospital.  I was happy that Clinton felt safe enough to trust me and was able to share what was going on.

I took this opportunity to let Clinton know that hospital visits are part of what our Outreach Team does, because sometimes youth may not have family or friends who can be a support for them. I let Clinton know that if he ever ended up in the hospital again that our Outreach Team would be happy to visit him and would also bring him items that he might need.

I could tell that this positively impacted Clinton, as he began to smile. He said that it would be really cool if someone from CHV came by to say hi, should this situation happen again.

When Drop-In ended for the day, Clinton gave me a fist bump, which had never happened before. I felt that letting Clinton know that he had support from CHV, really strengthened my connection with him.

The Impact of Loneliness on Youth

Young people in Canada tend to experience loneliness more often than older people. In fact, almost 1 in 4 young people (23%), age 15 to 24, said that they always, or often, felt lonely. And nearly 50% of those youth reported that their mental health was either fair or poor.

Research shows that loneliness is correlated with a  number of illnesses including high blood pressure, sleep disturbance, low self-esteem, substance use problems, criminal activity, depression, dementia, and early mortality.

In Metro Vancouver, there are approximately 500 – 1,000 young people without a safe place to sleep every night. Many of them experience mental health concerns that are often left undiagnosed, and often these youth cope by turning to substance use.

How We Can Help Youth

Covenant House Vancouver offers a continuum of services that incorporate evidence-informed theories and practices to ensure that we care for the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. Complex care is a person-centered approach that addresses the needs of people whose overlapping mental health, substance use, trauma, medical health, and other challenges require coordinated and specialized support.

But we can’t do this alone.

On Thursday, February 16, Covenant House Vancouver will host Sleep Out: Champions Edition. This event will raise funds to support the mental health and addiction programs at CHV.

Be a champion! Join Covenant House Vancouver and give up your bed for one night to support young people facing homelessness and the detrimental impacts of loneliness.

Sleep Out: Champions Edition

Thursday, February 16, 2023

1280 Seymour St.

7pm – 7am

Sign up to Sleep Out or make a donation and be part of the movement to help change the lives of youth.

Contact the Sleep Out Team if you would like more information about how you can get involved.