What motivated you to volunteer at CMHA?
I entered the mental healthcare system at the age of nine. I am well acquainted with the systemic gaps and barriers that impede a person’s journey to mental wellness. In my late teens, I realized I wanted to help close and remove these systemic gaps and barriers. I knew this would be possible as a volunteer for CMHA.
What makes this volunteer experience a meaningful use of your time?
Like so many youth before me, my journey to mental well-being was difficult—growing-up, I often worried that future generations would face the same struggles. As a volunteer for CMHA, I have spent many hours in meetings, sitting alongside health service providers, politicians, and policymakers, talking about the issues faced by young people living with mental illness. Over the course of a few years, I have watched these concerns transform programs and services, and remove barriers that made my journey to mental wellness so difficult. To know that my work with CMHA may prevent future generations from meeting these difficulties is indescribable.
What is the most memorable accomplishment of your volunteer experience with CMHA?
Personally, I have been closely involved with the creation, development, and implementation of Foundry: a new mental health and wellness centre for youth ages twelve to twenty-four. From the early stages of planning, the goal of this clinic that was to create a place where persons of all walks of life could walk-in and get help, even if they didn’t know where to start. Well, a few weeks ago, I was volunteering at their front desk when a woman walked-in. Her teenage son was struggling mentally; she admitted to me she didn’t know how to help him, but came to Foundry as a place to start. Once she left, I became very emotional. Growing-up, I never had a place like Foundry where I could go and seek help—I often struggled on my own. Realizing the hours of advocacy, planning, and discussion had paid off, and youth and their families felt they could go somewhere to seek help gave me a lot of hope for the next generation. It was a beautiful feeling.