As part of an ongoing initiative at St. Andrew’s College to combat mental health issues and raise awareness of what mental health is, a team of students have started a jack.org chapter.
Jack.org empowers students to change the way people look at mental health. As the website states, “jack.org is the only network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health.”
The group consists of 14 students, the Rev. Bruce Roffey, Director of Health Services, Margaret Kirkby, and Housemaster, Keith Ramon. They met with Ocean Avriel from jack.org’s Toronto Headquarters yesterday to brainstorm events they could host at the School.
“Mental health awareness is a very relevant issue right now,” said Cameron Lawrence, a grade 12 student who became involved with jack.org last year as a Macdonald House Captain.
But it’s not always comfortable having a conversation about mental health. “You have to bring the people to you,” Ocean said, “and open the doors for you to have those important conversations.” In order to make this happen, the group plans to put together fun and interesting events to draw people in. Jack.org supplied cool sunglasses as give-away prizes for playing knowledge games, and the organization supports the initiatives by providing each chapter with $600 to get started.
At the meeting, the boys decided on their first two initiatives and came up with a number of other ideas to implement in term three. Over the next couple of weeks, students will be involved in an Advisory session dedicated to mental illness. As a group, the students will be responsible for answering three questions: What does mental health mean to you? How can we end the stigma that is mental health? What are some of the symptoms of mental health? The Advisory groups will write their answers on three stars and chapter members will post them in the Merkel Family Lobby for students to read as they enter Cole Hall.
The second event is a therapy dog session. Faculty who live on campus will be encouraged to bring their dog to school one day at break, and boys will have the opportunity to de-stress with some awesome pups! As students spend time with the dogs, the members will be going around talking about jack.org and raising awareness of mental health.
Look out for the jack.org Fact of the Week on the email news conference. This week’s tidbit: In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receive them.
Story by Nicolette Fleming