One of the biggest barriers faced by youth living with mental health issues is the stigma or shame that comes from silence and misunderstanding. On Thursday, November 5th, student leaders from throughout School District 23 gathered at the Hollywood Road Education Centre for a student Summit on mental health they called, “The Fire Within Us.” Overall, the message was clear: having open and honest conversations with friends and classmates is an important way of reducing that stigma.
Guest speakers, student presenters, and community organizations facilitated learning on themes of love, interconnectedness, empathy, and individuality. This year, the School District’s “Got Health?” campaigns are focused on mental health and student leaders are being challenged to create a plan to help their schools become mentally healthy. “We are so inspired by these student leaders. They understand the importance of promoting mental health through connection and, in many ways, are the best ones to tackle this critical focus area for our schools,” says Vianne Kintzinger, Director of Instruction with School District 23.
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna and District Branch, knew that this was the perfect venue to launch their #GETLOUD Pledge for schools. “The #GETLOUD Pledge is an initiative where individuals make the commitment to talk openly about mental health, show empathy and support, and share the pledge with friends and family, all to help break the silence that keeps many people from getting the help they need,” says Candace Giesbrecht, Director of Community Engagement at CMHA Kelowna. In addition to signing the #GETLOUD Pledge at the summit, students were given resources on how to create a plan to foster a mentally healthy environment at their schools. To support students, CMHA Kelowna is offering grants of up to $250 for each school to make those plans a reality, through the generous support of The Thomas Alan Budd Foundation.
Supporting change at the school level is an important step in fostering a mentally healthy Kelowna.
More information about this exciting project is coming soon!
In the meantime, please feel free to email CMHA Kelowna if your school would like to get involved.
You can also download our School Pledge Booklet here: