I have had the wonderful opportunity of working with an organisation called Jack.org as a both a volunteer and an employee. Jack.org works to empower young leaders who want to change the face of mental health, empower youth, educate the public, and break down the stigma and raise awareness about mental health.It is an organisation that sprouted from the face of tragedy, when young Jack Windeler took his life when he was in first year at Queen’s University, having suffered silently from mental illness. No one knew he was suffering, and his death came as a shock to his family and friends. Only once it became clear what Jack was going through did some of the problems with youth mental illness become apparent, including youth understanding and comfort with accessing helping resources, a lack of awareness about the signs of mental illness in youth, a lack of empowerment for youth to advocate and support each other’s mental health, and the ongoing issue of stigma from lack of education and awareness. Jack’s family started Jack.org in his memory and to help work towards a future where no young person has to feel alone, feel ostracised, or feel that they cannot speak about and share their experiences with mental health. They share the message in hopes that everyone will realise that they have mental health, whether or not they are suffering from mental illness – and that they need to not only watch out for each other and take care of each other, but also to take care of themselves.
While working with this organisation, I have also been able to help out at their Jack Summit – an annual youth-led, National Summit that brings together 200 youth from across Canada to work together to change the face of mental illness, to empower young leaders, and to bring together the best ideas around anti-stigma around youth mental health and to then turn those ideas into action.
At the Jack Summit conference in 2013, I had the AMAZING pleasure of meeting two young people who were attending the conference, Kyle MacNevin and Kayley Reed. Then, fabulously, I got to know them EVEN BETTER at the 2014 conference where they returned as speakers to talk about their business! They took their passion ignited from the 2013 summit and they have since been tirelessly been bringing their ideas to life in support of both mental health as well as fashion.Read More