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Cole’s Notes: It’s hard to be young these days

It won’t be easy to solve our problems, but our futures are worth fighting for
FILE: Four-year-old Jonah Arbez holds a protest sign at a Friday’s Strike for Climate on the steps of Nanaimo City Hall in 2019. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)

It’s easy to feel like being young sucks right now.

Most of us don’t think we’ll ever own a house in Canada. We work multiple jobs to keep up with the cost of living. We can’t find doctors. We’ve had “the best years of our lives” disrupted by the pandemic. We’re hardly represented in an increasingly divisive political landscape. We deal with increasing anxiety about climate change and the future of the planet.

All of that sucks. It sucks for everyone, but for young people, it can feel like the end of the world.

That’s backed up by the Mental Health Index complied by LifeWorks which has tracked the mental health of Canadians over the past two years. The index has found that younger Canadians — those under 40 — have worse mental health scores than people who are older. Students enrolled in full-time post-secondary education have consistently reported the worst mental health outcomes of any demographic.

Far too often, the concerns of younger generations are disregarded. We’re told to grow up, we’re told that this is simply “how things work in the real world” and that “we don’t know how good we have it”. Nobody can deny that the youth of 2022 have a better standard of living than the youth of 1922, but we don’t have it nearly as good as the youth of 1972.

There is simply not enough support out there for all the young people who are struggling. Though that doesn’t mean that the struggles are insurmountable.

If everything was truly terrible, if our planet was truly beyond saving it might make sense to throw up our hands and give up.

That’s not the case. If you take a look around B.C., you’ll find it’s often young people at the forefront of climate action movements, racial justice protests, advocating for an end to the toxic drug crisis and coming up with creative solutions to our problems.

But young people aren’t always taken seriously.

Up until recently, the so-called young generations of Millenials and Gen Z haven’t had a seat at the table. The oldest Millennials are now 40 years old and represent the largest demographic in Canada — and the politically engaged Gen Z is coming up rapidly behind them. The tides are shifting and the problems of Canada’s “younger” generations are quickly becoming mainstream.

It’s easy to feel like being young sucks. It’s easy to look at all the problems in the world and get overwhelmed.

It won’t be easy to solve our problems, but our world and our futures are worth fighting for.

Cole Schisler is a provincial reporter with Black Press Media.

READ MORE: ‘It’s time to change’: Young people lead Ashcroft climate strike

READ MORE: Surrey youth protest throne speech as part of Global Day of Action


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