Many youth who journey to Covenant House Vancouver and access our programs and services, have experienced traumatic life events, such as violence, poverty, and abuse, all which can negatively impact their mental and physical health. Young people who are at risk of, or who are experiencing homelessness, and those who have experienced human trafficking, have complex needs that require whole-person care. Complex care is a person-centred approach that addresses the needs of people whose overlapping mental health, substance use, trauma, medical health, and other challenges, require coordinated and specialized support.
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. Services and programs range from Outreach and Drop-In to short- and long-term housing and support services, like counselling, that enable youth to successfully transition to independence.
In addition to tailored supports and care, we encourage youth to visit the Covenant House Vancouver spaces that foster wellness, such as our outdoor gardens and patios for sunlight and social connections, the gymnasium for group or individually led recreational activities, the workout space to use the cardio or weight training equipment, the music room to encourage a jam session, and the wellness room for spiritual practices, quiet reflection, meditation, or yoga. Meditation can be a powerful tool for our youth (and for staff alike). Focusing your attention on something calming can help quiet worries, reduce stress, and ease the mind of any burdens, which helps foster a sense of calm and peace. Even a few minutes a day can be greatly beneficial, and the benefits can last well into your day, after the meditation session is over. The emotional and physical benefits of meditation can include:
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increasing self-awareness
- Focusing on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
- Increasing imagination and creativity
- Increasing patience and tolerance
- Lowering resting heart rate
- Lowering resting blood pressure
- Improving sleep quality
Another way youth can improve overall health and achieve mental clarity and calmness is yoga. Aside from its physical benefits on the body, research shows that practicing yoga changes the structure of your brain, creating new connections and activating the areas that are responsible for:
Studies using brain imaging technology, such as MRI scans, show a thicker cerebral cortex (the image processing area of the brain), and hippocampus (the learning and memory parts of the brain) compared to the people who did not practice yoga. As you age, these areas of the brain typically shrink; however, senior participants that did practice yoga showed less shrinkage when compared to those senior participants who did not practice yoga. This suggests that yoga may help boost and protect memory functions and reduce cognitive declines that are generally associated with aging.
Having access to these activities and spaces provides youth with the choice and the opportunity to participate and experience many benefits including:
- A judgement-free and safe space for youth amongst people they trust to be creative or move their bodies
- A fun, easy-going environment for young people to get to know each other and form trusting relationships, both with their peers and with staff
- A way to heal from trauma by being able to access fitness equipment alongside our compassionate frontline staff, without leaving the safety and comfort of Covenant House
The life and experiences of every young person is unique. That’s why we use a one-size-fits-one approach, tailored to the specific needs of each individual youth. This helps ensure that precise supports and care are made available at the right time for youth, based on their respective journeys and specific needs.
Combined with counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectal behaviour therapy, art therapy, and having access to the wellness room, meditation/yoga practices, fitness room, and gymnasium, youth have an array of services and programs to help support them and holistically help them improve their mental health.