My name is Janice and I have no personal experience with mental illness. Nonetheless, mental health still impacts me, just as it affects everyone in some form. In my case, my indirect experiences have led me to the busy life I lead now as a volunteer, advocate, and student.
I love my friends. To me, being the best person possible includes supporting those I care about. This has led me to watching and attempting to help them as they have struggled with mental illness. I have witnessed their recovery journey, filled with relapses as well as the steps they have taken afterward that move them forward. I have held them as they have cried, tears both of happiness and sadness. I have been there as a person to vent to, someone who will listen and do their best to understand.
Using what empathy, insight, and knowledge are available to me, I want to be able to support my friends and others better and provide as much help as I can. It’s why I attend conferences such as Unleash the Noise where youth leaders gather to conceptualize mental health initiatives. It’s why I’m working with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH)’s National Youth Advisory Committee, a group made up of youth ages 12-25, on projects to help break the stigma around mental health. It’s why I’m receiving training in skills such as suicide prevention – how to recognize the signs and what to, with workshops such as LivingWork’s safeTALK and ASIST.
I am continuously learning as well as seeking and grasping more opportunities around creating a change with mental health because the need is great. One in five Canadians will be directly impacted by mental illness – that’s twenty percent! Five in five Canadians are affected due to this.
For me, my friends and their struggles with mental illnesses have led me to this path I walk down. I’m seeking a change with the mental health landscape that currently exists, a transformation that can only happen through the efforts of many. It will require discussion, conversations, that I believe Wear Your Label will help create.
Wear Your Label’s products as well as their packaging are infused with a message of love surrounding mental health. In it, I read that mental health is important and something that is worth talking about. In wearing their products, we’re creating a conversation starter, a place to begin having those discussions. Conversation around mental health will lead to stigma being shattered as well as ideas for change being voiced and organized.
Wear Your Label is going to help create a foundation for a place where my friends won’t have to worry when they talk or ask for help in regards to their mental health struggles. That’s why I’m excited and proud to be a Community Champion.
By Janice Lam, @lamjylam