A new group on campus is breaking barriers surrounding mental health support through action and conversation.
Founded in 2010, Jack.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that advocates for mental health and suicide prevention. By working primarily with youngsters, the charity hopes to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness.
With chapters present throughout North America, Jack.org has put down some roots in the province. The new chapter at the University of Saskatchewan marks the third Jack.org initiative in Saskatchewan, with psychology honours student Jenna Bernatsky leading the 13 members in the Saskatoon team.
Bernatsky believes that mental health is far more complex than what most people understand. They say that the education system currently lacks proper mental health resources for students and that Jack.org gives people the ability to raise their concerns about mental health policies, and solutions for issues that pervade society.
“For instance, online therapy can be funded and provided because of the COVID-19 pandemic to serve as a mental health check-in and mitigate the issue of long wait times,” Bernatsky said.
Due to COVID-19, the university chapter is currently operating remotely, but this did not stop the group’s activities. So far, they have focused on initiatives such as “Mental Health Monday,” where they discuss online topics such as seasonal affective disorder or men’s mental health.
Their hope is to increase their presence on campus and generate a significant impact on the student body.
Alongside Bernatsky is the chapter’s outreach co-lead, psychology student Inshal Anees. According to Anees, the team plans to hold events that encourage a conversation about mental health. Ideas such as discussion nights for students to talk about mental health stigma, game nights or movie nights to break the monotony of remote learning are in the works.
Events, particularly those held in smaller communities, can encourage youth to take ownership of their well-being and push communities to develop long-term solutions, says Anees.
With upcoming events and projects, the team is ecstatic about their start at the U of S. Anees is grateful to the organization and its team culture, especially because of the encouragement they get from the team’s weekly mental health check-ins.
“It gives everyone a chance to share their feelings in a non-judgemental space,” Anees said.
If you or anyone you know is interested in getting involved with University of Saskatchewan’s Jack.org Chapter, please contact the team via Instagram (@jack.org_uofs).
If you, or a friend, require any urgent or nonurgent mental-health care, do not hesitate to contact the Student Wellness Centre — phone 306-966-5757 or email email@example.com. For after-hours support, please contact Saskatoon Mobile Crisis at 306-933-6200 or Crisis Services Canada at 1-833-456-4566.