Bruce and Leah Dayton’s youth anxiety counselling program will make use of the Rotary building as well as the natural settings of the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Bruce and Leah Dayton’s youth anxiety counselling program will make use of the Rotary building as well as the natural settings of the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

Counsellers target teen anxiety in program at Langley arboretum

Mental health of teens has taken a hit during the pandemic, say local couple

Two local counsellors are running a program at Langley’s Derek Doubleday Arboretum designed for teens who are suffering from anxiety.

Leah and Bruce Dayton designed Control Anxiety, for youths aged 12 to 17, after years of working in schools in the Surrey area.

It will be run at the arboretum, mostly in the Rotary building, but also outside amid the trees and trails.

“We believe the venue will contribute greatly to the success of the program and the participants’ comfort,” Bruce Dayton said. “The Derek Doubleday Arboretum is situated in a tranquil setting with walking trails, beautiful trees and plants surrounding the amazing two story structure which is distinct with its and the un-milled log post and beam design.”

He said that when he and Leah visited the venue, they felt it was calming in nature, and that it would allow youth to feel safe and comfortable, more so than a traditional office space.

“We will utilize the natural surrounded to do some mindfulness training and explore our connection to nature and the many benefits that fresh air and exercise offers to the control over anxiety,” he said.

Anxiety, can be more serious than many people believe, including full debilitating panic attacks for some sufferers.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 isolation has impacted mental health of 1 in 5 Canadians, survey finds

“We feel that youth today are faced with a lot of tough decisions and a lot of information coming to them from school, friends, social media and family,” Bruce Dayton said. “Sometimes the thoughts get so intense that a child may shut down. We want to encourage the youth to understand these feelings, know when it is happening, and how to work through the thoughts and feelings in a healthy way so that they can go to school, work, sports and contribute to society in a healthy way.”

The 10 sessions take place over 10 weeks, and each addresses a different topic, including the chemistry of anxiety, prevention and intervention, seeing the bigger picture, mindfulness, and life balance.

The Daytons say teenagers may have more anxiety to deal with now after a year and a half of disruptions thanks to COVID-19.

“We have seen the effects of the COVID isolation as damaging to many youth’s ability to socialize in conventional ways,” Bruce Dayton said. “Many teens were left to their own devices while being schooled online during the pandemic. Their normal routines have been disrupted, some are scared to go in public, they are uncertain about their futures which has led to low mood and an increase in mental health reports.”

After years of working as counsellors in Surrey schools, the Daytons decided to bring the new program to Langley, having lived her for the last 16 years.

“It wouldn’t matter which city we went to with this program, there is a need for more care for anxiety in all parts of the Lower Mainland,” Bruce said. “Anxiety, whether it is diagnosed or undiagnosed, is the main concern among teen mental health.”

Control Anxiety starts its first session Thursday, Nov. 18. There are just 16 spots available, and the sessions cost $49 per week. Visit controlanxiety.ca for more information.

Langleymental health

 

The Rotary building at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum offers areas for group counselling as well as break out sessions. Leah and Bruce Dayton are using the building and grounds to counsel youths dealing with anxiety issues. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)

The Rotary building at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum offers areas for group counselling as well as break out sessions. Leah and Bruce Dayton are using the building and grounds to counsel youths dealing with anxiety issues. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)