Mental health was not a topic I grew up talking about. In school, I was taught how to take care of my physical health but silence remained around mental health. As an unfortunate result, I did not know how to support one of my oldest friends recently diagnosed with a mental illness when I first began my post-secondary education. And I wasen't alone- the more I talked to my peers, the more I realized so many of us had no idea how to take care of ourselves and others when it came to mental health. I got involved with Jack.org to break the silence and build a more supportive community on campus. My mental health message is that the more we talk, the easier it will become for everyone to access help when they need it.
Starting Jack.org UAlberta allowed the executive team and I to bring Jack.org's message of 'no more silence' to our campus and connected our university community to the greater youth-lead mental health movement occurring across the nation. Jack.org UAlberta aims to address a common barrier to help seeking at our university: the lack of conversation surrounding mental health. Through fun, innovative and informative initiatives, our team has been able to open up and maintain the dialogue surrounding mental health on our campus. Through conversation, awareness and knowledge is generated naturally – all working to tear down the debilitating stigma and existing barriers to accessing help on campus.
We're making a huge difference! Last year, we brought togehter 200 students from Edmonton for Jack Summit UAlberta – Jack.org’s largest local summit of 2016. Our team worked with mental health-related student groups and service providers to create an event that provided students with the opportunity to build their helping skills and take action in their community. We were so proud of the results! “The impact was near immediate; the Peer Support Centre’s client numbers increased heavily that following week, with most clients suggesting they heard about us through the conference,” according to Jonathan Dubue (Former Program Lead of the Peer Support Center at the University of Alberta). My team and I are already planning for 2017 and I can't wait to share our ideas with the Duke and Duchess!
***Nancy is one of the phenomenal student leaders who will be meeting with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their Canadian Royal Tour. Share your own mental health message and help us turn the Royal Visit into a chance for national conversation about mental health! Share your message via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and tag it with #OurRoyalMoment.***