Montague teenagers rally for mental health with awareness concert

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 29, 2015

MONTAGUE - Teenage issues are usually considered part of growing up but some high school students say there’s a darker side that's more than just a phase.

And the spotlight will be squarely turned on the issue of mental health during a student hosted event slated for early January.

“You know on the inside when something is wrong,’’ says Cody Taylor, 16, who is taking on the organizational duties of the concert. "And that's more than the regular teenage struggles. We want to raise funds and awareness about mental health because it touches everyone.”

There have been classroom seminars and health sponsored discussions about the issues, but this is the first time the focus on mental health has been rallied at the student level.

The event goes Wednesday, Jan. 6 from 7 until 9:30 p.m.at the Montague Regional High School and is open to all supporters with admission by donation. The evening will feature the Montague regional R and B band, the Down East dance academy, the group Aftershock from Georgetown and the Cody Taylor band. Storm date is same time Jan. 7.

“We just want to help people,” says drummer Zack Chandler, 16. “Mental health touches close to home to all of us.”

The evening will include some commentary about mental health and focus on the many support systems already in place.

“We know plenty of people who are affected,” says Cody. “But it’s hard to describe what their struggles are and how their demons affect them. Dealing with a mental illness is like nothing you can imagine unless you too have suffered from it.”

Zach lost high school friends during a tragedy about 18 months ago when three local area students died in a Charlottetown fire.

“It’s not something anyone can see on the outside,’’ he says. “But you can feel it on the inside and it affects your family and friends and it’s usually affecting the ones you would never expect.”

Both teens say they have a lot of respect for people who work in the mental health field.

“It's tough but you have to stay strong,” says Cody. “You have to keep going because it truly does get better. I think organizing this benefit is the least I can do to raise awareness about mental illness.”

Guitarist Cody Taylor and drummer Zack Chandler, both 16, rehearse some tunes for the upcoming musical event at Montague Regional High School to raise awareness about mental health.

©Steve Sharratt/The Guardian