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Fiona Ma
Fiona Ma

Fiona Ma

She's exercising her power as a Jack Chapter lead.
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Fiona Ma is bringing mental health resources to students on her campus.

Mental health was a foreign concept to me until I attended university and even with the mental health education I had received, I was still oblivious to the signs and symptoms of my own declining mental health. Growing up with a physical disability meant that I constantly dealt with bullying and self image issues, with the isolation and negative experiences fueling my strong desire to be “normal” and to be “good enough” to fit into a society that greatly emphasized the importance of looks and being liked.

The need to prove myself extended from body image to excelling in academics and extracurriculars, and I pushed away the signs and symptoms of depression for months until I broke down. Even after realizing that I was experiencing a major depressive episode, I had issues reaching out for help due to the fear of appearing weak and being labelled as having a mental illness.

After a long period of recovering and self acceptance, I wanted to share my story and help individuals who might be experiencing what I had gone through find the strength needed to take that first step and reach out for help. That following year I organized a mental health resource fair for three of my university’s first year residence buildings, highlighting the many resources and services both on and off campus. I had multiple first year students approach me during the event, mentioning how they did not know of many of the resources prior and that they were appreciative since the event allowed for the initiation of conversations around a highly stigmatized topic. The positive responses I received solidified my passion for mental health advocacy, which led to my involvement with in 2017 when I enrolled at BCIT. Noticing the lack of mental health awareness and support, I helped establish the BCIT Jack Chapter in hopes to eventually bridge the obvious gaps in resources. In the past year my chapter has had 615 meaningful interactions with BCIT students around the importance of self care, the power in our words, reducing the stigma on campus and ways to bridge the gaps in campus resources.