A group of UBC Okanagan students passionate about ending mental health stigma are hosting a one-day regional summit for 100 high school and college students on Jan. 25.
Kimberly Rutledge and Haylee Rolston are organizing the 'Voices in the Valley' summit as part of the Jack.org UBCO chapter, which focuses on training and empowering young people to be mental health advocates.
"We're really focusing on raising awareness, and giving young people the tools to help support each other, support themselves and raise more awareness about struggles going on in our community," says Rolston.
The summit will bring together various community organizations and mental health advocates to present, including keynote speaker and captain of Team Canada's field hockey team, Kate Wright.
Workshop topics include suicide prevention hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, naloxone and drug safety training, behavioural development and coping strategies, anti-depression and a yoga session.
It's important students understand that it's ok not to be ok, and that discussing mental health should be normalized, says Rutledge, who is an executive of the UBCO Jack.org chapter.
"Everybody has mental health and we need to take care of our mental health just like we need to take care of our physical health. If you have a broken bone you go to the doctor, and that’s not something that’s ever frowned upon or weird. It's the same with mental health. If there’s something wrong we need to see a professional and get that help.
"It’s so important we’re bringing this to the Okanagan and to UBCO because suicide is the leading health-related cause of death amongst young people in Canada. Statistics-wise, one in five of us will struggle with our mental health in a year, but only one in four of us will get the help that we need and that we deserve."