Grade 11 student Sophia Lia is editor and chief of the Sophia Lia magazine. (Photo contributed)

Grade 11 student Sophia Lia is editor and chief of the Sophia Lia magazine. (Photo contributed)

Red Deer student encourages conversation around mental health

Pandemic puts more strains on teens

A Red Deer student has created a mental health magazine to remind teens they don’t have to face their struggles alone.

Sophia Lia, a Grade 11 Notre Dame High School student, is editor and chief of the Sophia Lia magazine, which will release its second edition this week.

“During the pandemic, I noticed everyone, but especially teens, were struggling, and mental health wasn’t something that was really talked about.

“There’s huge stigma around it. It’s seen as a really negative thing,” said the 15-year-old.

“I really wanted to create something that would normalize mental health and help teens to have a resource where they could share what they’re going through.

“They could look up information about mental health. They could reach out to professionals and read other teens’ stories. Kind of like a one-stop shop.”

Free access to the online magazine is available through Sophia Lia’s Instagram account, sophialiamag. The magazine’s first edition came out in August, and the third is planned for February.

Lia said many teens were already struggling with issues such as anxiety, depression and loneliness before the pandemic, and COVID-19 restrictions made it worse.

“I think that really put a strain on them. Not being able to see your friends when you’re a teen is really hard.”

Reopening schools also created some social anxiety, she added.

“When they see their friends, they just don’t feel connected to them anymore. It’s just not the same as it was before.”

Related:

One in four Canadians say their mental health is worse than during COVID-19 outbreak

Household size, employment key factors in pandemic mental health among Canadians: survey

Lia said her magazine encourages teens who have dealt with mental health issues to contribute their stories, because it helps others going through the same struggle to see that it does get better.

“If any teens have anything they want to say, want to submit, have advice, they can send it in. We review every single story. We love to see what teens want to contribute.”

She said the magazine is a bigger hit than anticipated with many of her 84,000 Instagram followers.

“It’s been crazy to see. Instagram has blown up in the last few months with people from the States, Canada, even Mexico and Brazil, and people I never thought we could reach.”

Lia said being a mental-health-care advocate is what she is meant to do.

“Once I graduate next year, I will be heading to school to become a psychologist. What else can I do? That’s what I’m really passionate about.”

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