An illustration of a woman sitting on the grass with her legs crossed

By Elena Mager, Age 17, Vancouver, BC

Elena MagerI have learned many important life lessons from a young age, growing up with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, which is a form of dysautonomia.

Every day, I advocate for myself to family, friends, doctors, and teachers. The physical toll on my body is hard at times, despite my healthy-looking appearance, and this can be deceiving. Many people don’t understand what it’s like to have an invisible condition.

The relationship between physical and mental health is often overlooked. Through talking to other teenage heart patients, I realized I am not alone and this sparked the understanding that change was necessary. I had the ability to make a difference and connect people to each other as well as share information!

I co-founded Youth Mental Wealth due to a lack of existing resources. This became more apparent as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the people around me began to reach out. Youth Mental Wealth (@YouthMentalWealth) is an Instagram non-profit initiative created by youth for youth. We developed a peer ambassador program to provide a safe space for teens to share their stories and experiences regarding mental health in hopes of actively reducing the stigma around mental health disorders. This helps provoke conversation and promote the realization that people’s lives aren’t as perfect as they look on social media, and that’s okay. The “monthly topic” posts aim to share mental health literacy and spread awareness.

I highly recommend everyone (parents and teens) take advantage of this resource available to you on Instagram:

I am ecstatic that the Children’s Heart Network and BC Children’s Hospital are taking further action to recognize the crucial connection between mental and physical health. Heart-related conditions can be lonely, and this will go a long way in helping patients feel supported and connected to each other!

“An Invisible Condition and Mental Well-Being” is from our fall 2021 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.