Mental Health

Taking Medication for Mental Health


3 minutes - Article

If you have been prescribed medication make sure you take it consistently and be open and honest with your doctor.

Ashlee Homewood is caseworker from Calgary, she says that common medications for youth (ie. anxiety, depression) are not perfect and require youth to stay in communication with their doctor.

“Sometimes medications are not always effective, and you need a doctor who can help figure out what is the right medication. Your doctor is also the one that can help with things like side effects. If you're struggling to sleep, they know how to help with those things.”

Struggles with sleep

Many youth struggle with sleep, concentration or low mood - and don’t talk about it.

“A lot of our young adults don't know that it could be better. A lot of our young people will say, ‘I tried a medication once and it stopped working, so I haven't taken anything since because I don't think anything is going to work.’ And so we always start with, 'let's talk about it and then let's go to a doctor'.”

Sometimes when youth use alcohol or drugs, they might stop taking medication, or have complications if they continue to take it. These are common situations and its important to discuss this with your doctor. Ashlee says they won’t judge you.

“When it comes to medications for your mental health, it’s really, really, really important if you're taking drugs or alcohol, to be open and honest about that. There's often side effects and your doctor will probably choose something different or will try and help manage that so that you're safe. We don't want you to end up having side effects that are really scary.”

You have options

By talking to your doctor, you would be surprised to find out of the different options and methods for taking medication. If you are struggling with low mood, you may also want to consider talking to an Elder or consider participating in ceremony.

Many Indigenous youth will light sweetgrass in order smudge and connect with their spirituality. Talk to your caseworker or an adult support person you trust if you would like to connect with an Elder. There are many options out there, from traditional ceremony to horse therapy, just ask!

“We have so many of our teenagers and young adults that love equine (horse) therapy. They love going and not having to sit in an office and speak to somebody, they can be outside and connect with the horses.”

If you're forgetting to take your medication, talk to your doctor about other ways that you can get it.

“Just like you can get an IUD contraceptive that you can forget about for three or five years, or you can get a birth control shot that you only have to do once a month. There are lots of medications, that you can get in injectable forms once a month. You just have to talk to your doctor about it.”

Related Resources