Stigma may stop us from having the mental health conversation with our own families, but it didn’t stop the #6dad from chiming in. “Being retweeted by Norm Kelly is something I’m putting in my LinkedIn profile,” Shayan says about looking through the #RamsTalk tweets.
RamsTalk is an annual fundraiser started by Nella Brodett from Ryerson University. This year, the proceeds from RamsTalk went to Jack.org.
Nella was a student leader. She excelled academically, was the captain of the Ryerson women’s hockey team, and was heavily involved in the community. She was also silently struggling with depression. “I would go into the dressing room everyday, and everybody would be laughing. But all I could think about was how I didn’t want to be there – how no one in the world knew what I was feeling.” At her lowest point, Nella skipped a hockey game, and sat in her bedroom contemplating ending her life. It was a phone call from the team’s athletic therapist, updating her on the score of the game, that motivated her to finally get help.
Getting help was one thing, but talking freely about her struggles with her friends and family was a whole other ball game. ”Going through depression is not something you ever want to talk about. Especially when you’re seen as a strong, independent leader.” Nella’s friends often turned to her for advice about leadership activities. So, naturally, when she was approached about putting together a fundraiser for the Do It For Daron Foundation (a foundation started in memory of Daron Richardson, who died by suicide in 2010), she jumped at the opportunity. At the time, this was just another way for Nella to get involved, to be creative, and to cement her role as a student leader. She didn’t even think about the personal connection she had to the cause. She was living two very different lives.
Nella and her friends decided on a Twitter campaign called #RamsTalk. They found a sponsor who made a 5 cent donation to Do it for Daron for every tweet made with the #RamsTalk hashtag during a 24 hour period. They were floored by the overwhelming response- in one day, the campaign raised $2,000. “We were so shocked! It was such an amazing day."
Three years later, Nella heard about Shayan – a fellow Ryerson student – through his work in the mental health space. She was inspired by his passion for mental health and dedication to making change. Nella knew Shayan was the perfect person to pass the #RamsTalk baton to.
This year, the two of them worked together to raise over $5,000 for Jack.org. “When Shayan told me about Jack.org, it was an easy sell. #RamsTalk is all about giving people a voice, so donating to Jack.org was the perfect fit,” Nella says. For both Shayan and Nella, the conversations are more important than the money. There were over 100,000 #RamsTalk tweets that day. Yep — that’s over a tweet a second, for a full 24 hours. Now that's some hashtag activism we can get behind!
* Header photo used with permission from Vanessa Francone from the Ryersonian.