Canada’s only charity that primarily exists to train and empower young leaders to revolutionize mental health is coming to the University of Saskatchewan.
Tay Spock, the president of the St. Thomas More Students’ Union, is taking the lead as Saskatchewan co-ordinator to build the first chapter inside the province.
“We’re mainly just about destroying stigma and increasing mental health awareness,” Spock said.
Spock attended the Jack.org youth-led summit Breaking Barriers in Winnipeg last February. The annual summit held by the charity focuses on mental health in the Prairies and post-secondary students are encouraged to apply.
Organizers say they receive more applications than they can host at the western region summit therefore students attending are chosen. Those who are lucky to be picked will have all of their travel and accommodation expenses paid for.
Attendees learn how to engage in inclusive approaches to mental health discussions and learn how to campaign against stigma in the workplace and in communities.
After attending the summit, Spock learned a lot and felt a responsibility to return to the U of S and start the Saskatchewan chapter herself.
For Spock, part of the mission to revolutionize mental health is closing the discourse between genders.
Since getting involved, Spock noticed that women typically seek a diagnosis for a mental health concern as it reveals itself. She says this behaviour is quite the opposite of what she has observed with men, who usually suppress what they are feeling by telling themselves they are being too emotional.
Carla Sutton, a program coordinator for Jack.org responsible for overseeing multiple regions, encourages young people to support the U of S chapter and join the Jack.org network of more than 2,800 young people across the country.
“You no longer feel like you’re fighting this battle alone,” said Sutton. “You’re suddenly linked to resources, staff, coaches and mentorship. I’ve seen people flourish once they join, they become involved in every capacity.”
Both Spock and Sutton are actively searching for students willing to be trained on mental health and assist the charity in any way they can.
“You can be as involved as you want,” Spock said, pointing to the resources the charity has available to every member no matter how much or little they are involved.
“If you join, you’ll get a login and you’ll have your own training program and resources,” Spock said.
The goals of each Jack.org chapter are determined by the chapter coordinator. Collectively, Jack.org seeks to create a world where people can all better support one another.
Sutton hopes that Spock will be assisted by a co-lead to help build the specific goals and objectives of the Saskatchewan chapter.
Even if students lack experience, they will find substantial assistance from Jack.org’s online program.
“They teach you how to make [promotional materials]. And when you want to do a speech, you just have a Skype call with them and practice,” Spock said.
Although the Saskatchewan chapter is in its infant stages, the Student Wellness Centre on campus has expressed their interest in assisting Spock with resources to run events and other promotions.
As Spock works to establish a healthy presence on campus, she will need all the help she can get.
“If you want to revolutionize mental health, come join,” Spock said.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health Editor
Photo: Supplied by Jack.org