"My name is Logan Taylor and I am a Grade 12 student at Mother Teresa High School who wants to make a change for the better." That is how the email began.
I was intrigued. Not just because this email stood out from those I typically receive from businesses or associations seeking a professional speaker, but because I have one child in Grade 10, and another that just finished Grade 12. The message felt, somehow, very personal.
"This year, my business leadership class is running a youth conference called 'Game Changers' with a mission to inspire just over 400 Grade 10 students in the Barrhaven area to make a change. As Grade 12 students of Mother Teresa High School we would like to help influence a change in future generations and we need your help. At our youth conference we want to encourage students to take action on social issues, we want to speak about the issues that affect people in their community, life and world. Some social issues we are planning to talk about are mental health, environment, poverty, healthy living, bullying and inclusion.
Overall we want to see a change, a change that will encourage a better and brighter future. Lighting the fire with Grade 10 students is our basic mission and we hope that it'll encourage them to help make a difference themselves. Your participation will help us inspire the future."
Wow, I thought, what a great idea. I knew that I wanted to be a part of this. I set up a time to speak with Logan directly. I wanted to learn a little more about what they had planned for the event, and about how I might be able to help.
Logan's enthusiasm was palpable. She told me that they had booked Allan Hubley, an Ottawa MP, as a speaker at the conference. Mr. Hubley's son, Jamie, died by suicide in 2011 and he has spoken publicly about the importance of young people speaking out when they need help. Another speaker they looked at, but could not book due to a scheduling conflict, is Luke Richardson, the Ottawa Senators Assistant Coach, whose 14-year-old daughter, Daron, also died by suicide two years ago.
In an article in the Globe and Mail, Caroline Alphonso writes that "suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and fourth among those in the younger age group, according to Statistics Canada."
Both Mr. Hubley and Mr. Richardson have been courageous in sharing their personal story with the world. Their openness has allowed the rest of us to open up the topic of mental health in our own homes and workplaces.
I jumped into action for Logan. While I will not be able to be there physically, I am providing some resources for the students that will be a part of the conference. In addition to sending some copies of my book Wake Up To Your Habits as door prizes, I prepared a handout of tips for positive mental health for each student.
You see, I am on a mission too. My mission is to increase the messaging and information about positive mental health. My mission is about prevention and pro-action, so that there are no more families who experience the same devastating loss as that experienced by the Richardson and Hubley families.
Mental health experts agree that not all people who die by suicide necessarily exhibit symptoms of mental illness. My position is that they very likely did not display behaviours of positive mental health.
I believe that the more we practice positive mental health, every day, the less chance there is that negative, debilitating, fateful thoughts, feelings or actions will transpire. There simply will not be room for those thoughts, feelings, and actions to take over.
Here is what I prepared for the Game Changers:
Be A Game Changer In Mental Health
Your mental health is at the very foundation of your health and wellness as a human being. There is a lot that you can do to positively and pro-actively impact your mental health, every day.
Below is a list of ideas to help you be a game changer in mental health.
Grow your support network.
Another part of my mission is to create a portal for spreading the message about positive mental health. I think of it as a movement, of sorts. I have invited Logan's Game Changers to be a part of this movement.
I'd love you to be a part of this movement also.
I have created a Facebook page called Mental Health for Greater Wealth. On that page, I will post stories, strategies, poems, videos, songs, whatever you send to me related to a positive message about mental health. This message about the Game Changers will be there for sure.
Please send me whatever you create or come across that is a positive mental health message! You can either post directly to that page, or email me at email@example.com.
I know that we can create so much positive buzz, that there will be not room for anything else.
One in five people in France reported having experienced at least one depressive episode in their lifetime.
A little more than one in five people in the US reported having experienced a depressive episode.
A little more than one in five people in the Brazil reported having experienced a depressive episode.
About one in six people in the Netherlands reported having experienced a depressive episode.
About one in six people in New Zealand reported having experienced a depressive episode.
About one in seven people in Ukraine reported having experienced a depressive episode.
About one in seven people in New Belgium reported having experienced a depressive episode.
About one in eight people in Colombia reported having experienced a depressive episode.
About one in nine people in Lebanon reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 10 people in Spain reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 10 people in Israel reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 10 people in Germany reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 10 people in Italy reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 10 people in South Africa reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 11 people in India reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 12 people in Japan reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 15 people in japan reported having a depressive episode.
About one in 15 people in China reported having a depressive episode.
Follow Deri Latimer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@intoanewgroove