Former Quesnel resident Myles Mattila met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about youth mental health on May 28.
While he was in Ottawa, Mattila also met with Minister of Heath Ginette Petitpas Taylor as well as the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Carla Qualtrough.
The trip was organized by Stephen Fuhr, the MP for Kelowna–Lake Country, where Mattila plays hockey for the Kelowna Chiefs.
Following his meetings in Ottawa, Mattila says he thinks it’s important to keep talking about “programs that include youth, encourage early intervention, speaking up if you need help, recognizing if a friend needs help and what to do then.”
Mattila, 19, has long been an activist for youth mental health. In 2016, Mattila founded MindRight.info, a program for the Cariboo Cougar hockey players in Prince George. MindRight.info is designed to help players, coaches, parents, supporters and the Prince George community at large to reduce stigma around mental health and provide information about local mental health resources to those in need.
In his meeting with Trudeau, Mattila says he discussed the impacts of mental health on youth in particular. He says they also talked about the importance of early intervention for those who need help, as well as supporting more mental health programs for youth.
Mattila says that his meeting with the prime minister was brief, but his discussion with the minister of health was more in depth. In particular, he says they discussed new ways to educate youth about mental health.
“Mental health isn’t talked about enough and I think it’s really important to have the education behind that,” says Mattila. “That will make it a lot easier for youths and young adults to see that if they are going through a hard time, to show them how they can go about it. And I think the big thing is that if they do see a friend in need, or a person that’s reaching out, they can relay them to the right resources.”
When he wasn’t networking or meeting with politicians, Mattila says he took a tour around Parliament Hill. His favourite part of the tour was the Parliamentary Library. “I thought it was really cool to stand foot in there.”
Now that he’s home, Mattila plans to shift his focus to the Ride Don’t Hide, a bike ride for mental health that will be taking place across Canada on June 24.
“I think it’s a good way to get people out and talking about the subject and get the community involved,” says Mattila.