The Importance of Talking and Getting Involved

  • Posted on: 26 January 2017
  • By: Alicia

In 2010, I was your average university student with a secret I wanted to talk about. I really wanted to talk about mental illness and help create a better system.

I tried getting involved in many organizations – but it I kept facing barriers to get involved on a deeper level. Organizations always seemed to favour people with a lot of experience (which I didn’t have) and sometimes even tokenized youth with mental illness. However, this all changed for me when I received a facebook invite from a guy with a faux-hawk that asked me “ Have you ever heard of mindyourmind?”.

He shared with me that mindyourmind (Be Change’s parent organization) was an organization that engaged youth around Mental Health and wellness. He invited me to be part of a co-design process on newcomer youth and from that moment, my life changed. It was the first time people told me that my experience was living expertise – and that my voice and experiences matter. It made me completely reframe my experience with mental illness. It also allowed me to give back to the community and hopefully make the journey easier for someone else.

This experience gave me the confidence to challenge the stigma and broken processes I saw around me. It gave me the strength to share my story loudly and start my journey into becoming a ChangeMaker.

7 years later, I have created REAL change. I have helped through the public education of over 1 million people. I have received over 200 messages from people saying that me talking about mental health helped them turn away from suicide and ask for help. I have a book in grade 8 English classes across Canada that empowers young people to talk about mental health and suicide.  I’m now also the Be Change Community Engagement Lead where I get to continue my advocacy for others to make the change they want to see in their communities.

I am so grateful for mindyourmind for launching me on this journey, believing in me, and giving me the confidence to change the conversation around mental health in Canada.