Joining Partners for Mental Health!

I am excited this week to announce that I am joining Partners for Mental Health (PFMH) as a Community Correspondent!

PFMH is a Canadian charitable organization that promotes mental health awareness and fundraising campaigns, focusing on workplace and youth mental health. PFMH has members across Canada and supports them in arranging events, promotions and advocacy.

PFMH’s current campaign Right By You, calls on the federal government to invest in a newly created National Youth Suicide Prevention Fund and asks provincial and territorial governments to help set aside $1,000 per child to cover costs for psychological counselling.

I approached PFMH in Dec 2013 to see if I could become a Community Correspondent to help raise awareness for and support their campaigns. I went through an online orientation and a phone interview before we decided this could be a great fit for both of us.

There are a number of reasons why I support PFMH but I wanted to take a moment to focus on their initiatives to support youth mental health.

What supporting youth mental health means to me

Stigma shouldn’t be a barrier that prevents anyone from getting help.

Between Sept 2011- Jan 2012, I did over 12 public speeches at local colleges, universities and high schools, sharing my story of anxiety, depression and attempted suicide with students, staff, faculty and mental health professionals.

I enjoyed connecting with high school students the most. I wish I had learned more about the signs of depression and overcome my trepidations about discussing my emotions in high school.

I remember giving a speech at a Vancouver high school with a few other presenters. We all shared our stories and really connected with students. A few came up afterward to ask questions about experiences they were having.

I remember one girl stopping to tell her friend she wanted to talk with us for a second. When I was in high school I wouldn’t have done anything like this. To stick around to talk to a bunch of people with mental illnesses, about personal emotions and thoughts, it just wouldn’t have happened. But her friend simply smiled and they agreed to meet up at lunch. I wonder why more high school atmospheres and friends can’t be like this? How different my life would be.

In high school, a lot of what I said, even among friends, was confined to what I thought I wouldn’t be made fun of for. I never talked about the fact I was lonely. I never really discussed my emotions. They were too real, too close to who I was. To open them up to ridicule was something I was afraid of doing.

Being seen as sad, lonely or depressed wouldn’t have been understood. We would have thought that person was stupid, lazy or overly dramatic and instead of providing support, we would have held them at arm’s length.

I wish I could have been one of the students to stick around and ask questions after a presentation like ours, or better yet, to have been confident enough, in myself and my classmates support, that I would have put up my hand to ask the question

Right By You - Campaign poster

Right By You – Campaign Poster

It’s okay to talk about negative thoughts and emotions. We all have them and it’s important to be able to recognize if yours are getting out of control.

Take a look at Partners for Mental Health and their current campaign Right by You. See if there are ways you may want to get involved. I think this will be a key partnership for MHPOV and look forward to working with PFMH!