Talking with Toronto Youth about Mental Health & Mental Illness|#8

This is an interview I did with Catch da Flava on Radio Regent Park. I hope you enjoy it! the blog post below is taken from their page and reposted here. 

Catch da Flava on Mental Health & Mental Illness

  By Meredith Charko – December 05, 2018 (from

On Tuesday November 27th, Radio Regent’s Catch da Flava youth radio show explored the topic of mental health and mental illness. We were fortunate enough to have guest Mike Stroh from mental health organization Starts With Me on the show with us as a guest. Mike answered a number of great questions from the youth and had some important and thought-provoking discussions with us about mental health and mental illness. For more information about Mike’s work and Starts With Me, visit

We started off the show the way we usually do when we are introducing the topic or issue for the day’s episode, which is to provide a definition or general explanation of the main concept. Mike made the important distinction between the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” for us and our listeners.

The youth started the discussion off by asking Mike to talk about some of the most common forms of mental illness, especially for youth in particular. He explained that anxiety and depression tend to be the most common, and then we talked about what kinds of symptoms and experiences people who suffer from these and related conditions go through. The youth also asked Mike to explain the difference between situational mental health issues, and clinical disorders such as clinical depression and anxiety disorders. We also discussed whether mental illness can be hereditary, that is, passed down through parents and family generations.

The youth also wanted to talk with Mike about the stigma that exists in society around mental illness, and some personal experiences with being discriminated against due to mental health issues. With this topic, we also discussed some of the lesser known mental health issues and mental illnesses aside from anxiety and depression (which most people are relatively familiar with). Along with that discussion, we talked about the added stigma that exists around mental health issues and mental illnesses that aren’t discussed as openly, and therefore aren’t understood in the same way as more common conditions like anxiety and depression. We also talked about the complicated issue of medication and the process of finding the right kind of medication for mental illness, as the process and results can and do differ from person to person, and not everyone even chooses to medicate in the traditional sense. In connection with that discussion, we also talked about some alternative and more natural medication options, such as cannabis. Mike importantly pointed out for us that no matter the method or specific medication, the results and process of starting medication can be different for everyone.

We closed out the episode by asking Mike to provide some recommendations for us and for listeners of mental health resources in Toronto. One great recommendation that Mike mentioned for youth specifically is the What’s Up Walk-In Clinic, which provides immediate walk-in mental health support and counselling without a referral, appointment, or even a health card required. For more information visit

what's up Walk-In logo