To The Haldimand Press
DUNNVILLE—In the cafeteria at Dunnville Secondary School, two young adults not much older than the students they’re presenting to were discussing details from their personal lives – the kinds of things that, until recently, just weren’t talked about openly. They discussed times when they didn’t feel mentally well, and how friends supported them or helped them find appropriate supports. They recalled recognizing when the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours of a friend began to negatively affect that individual’s life, and how they were able to be there for that friend.
Emily Martin and Owen Harris are trained and certified youth speakers through Jack.org, and the details they shared about their own experiences were part of Jack Talks, presentations delivered by young people for young people that launch important conversations around mental health. Using the power of personal stories and mental health education, these talks inspire, engage, and equip young people to look out for themselves and their peers.
“The first thing it does is break the silence and reduce the stigma,” said Piyali Bagchee, Grand Erie’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead, of the Jack Talks presentations taking place in several secondary schools this fall. “A big part of it is making it okay to have these conversations so we can start to understand mental health on a continuum, recognizing when someone is struggling or in crisis, and being able to connect them to help when necessary.”