Contest encourages those with anxiety to share experience

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Anxiety is a paranoid-headed monster that keeps you up at night.

Anxiety keeps you from just asking for help in Wal-Mart — instead, you wander, eternally lost in the endless aisles, not wanting to be a bother to someone who is paid to help you. Anxiety slams the panic button whenever you have to pick up the phone and make an appointment, screaming that the person on the other end thinks your voice is stupid — and so are you.

AnxietyBC, a non-profit based in Vancouver, attends to the needs of youth with anxiety. In 2013, AnxietyBC board member Michael Moore’s teenage daughter wrestled with her mental health. The board came up with a contest that would appeal to her creativity: AnxietyBC’s Annual Writing and Multimedia Contest.

This contest is open to B.C. residents aged 17–29 that have something to say about anxiety. Entrants can submit fiction, poetry, essays, videos, visual arts projects, infographics, and art using other mediums that help them express their thoughts and experiences surrounding anxiety.

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder amongst all age groups, but the 15–24 age bracket is the most susceptible. This is unsurprising, considering the pressure placed on youth to excel in all their endeavours, be it social, academic, athletic, personal, or familial. 25 per cent of Canadians will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, and according to Statistics Canada’s 2006 “Community Health Survey of Mental Health and Well-being,” 30 per cent of post-secondary students in Canada and the U.S. struggle with a mental health or substance abuse issue. 6.5 per cent of people aged 15–24 had experienced an anxiety disorder within the last year of the survey being published.

Established in 1999, AnxietyBC provides online resources for those suffering from anxiety. Their website is rife with links to educational videos, health tips, mindfulness exercises, and positive self-talk. AnxietyBC even has an app called MindShift that is designed to be the user’s personal anxiety coach, helping them learn good habits and calm down in stressful situations. While their resources are applicable to anyone, and they even have separate sections on their website for adults and children, AnxietyBC has a particular focus on anxious youth.

The top prize in each of the four categories is $500, publication on anxietybc.ca, and the opportunity to present your work at the MindShift gala happening this May, a benefit that will raise money for AnxietyBC and its programs.

“Even if you’ve never written or drawn anything to do with anxiety or mental health,” says Vanessa Waechtler, grant writer for AnxietyBC, “you could give it a try and see what you produce — you might find expressing yourself to be healing.”

The AnxietyBC’s Annual Writing and Multimedia Contest’s application deadline is March 31. More information about the contest can be found at anxietybc.com/2016-writing-and-multimedia-contest.

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