In honour of Bell Let’s Talk – a year-round initiative focused on taking action to create positive change in mental health – we are highlighting Kenny’s story in his battle against mental health challenges and bullying.

Throughout his childhood, Kenny suffered from severe bullying which challenged his confidence and schoolwork. He encountered name-calling, spitting, hitting, and having classmates go through his bag. From elementary to high school, Kenny never understood why his classmates chose him as a target and he did not have the proper support system to help him navigate through this massive internal struggle.

After so many years of this, Kenny transferred schools during his senior year of high school. That is when Kenny was diagnosed with Autism. With this diagnosis, there was a huge wave of relief for him as he was finally able to answer the many questions he had throughout his life. Kenny was then able to go through the proper treatment to help with his mental health challenges that had developed over the many years of bullying. Family Therapy provided at the Adolescent Day Treatment Program (ADTP) here in Surrey was a big part of Kenny’s recovery. Before this, Kenny’s family viewed mental health as a taboo topic. But, with the help of the Family Therapy sessions, Kenny’s family was able to overcome this stigma. In the process, this allowed Kenny and his family to learn patience and understanding.

Bell Let’s Talk promotes awareness, acceptance, and action regarding mental health challenges. As Kenny says, “if a youth was going through cancer, if we don’t recognize it early, the youth really doesn’t have a shot. It’s the same for mental health – it’s a health issue. By supporting youth mental health, we’re giving them another chance at life.” It is important that we recognize and spread awareness about the struggles people have with mental health—going against the stigma and providing programs to help. With programs like ADTP, we can help young people like Kenny have another fighting chance at life. Mental health is a health issue and Surrey Hospitals Foundation is proud to support programs that recognize this.