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"If I could walk around all day in a shirt that says ‘I battle mental illness but am fabulous, and so are you’ – I would."
"If I could walk around all day in a shirt that says ‘I battle mental illness but am fabulous, and so are you’ – I would."

"If I could walk around all day in a shirt that says ‘I battle mental illness but am fabulous, and so are you’ – I would."

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Fundraising Rebel: Josh Hellyer
How do you define mental health?

Mental health is the pallet by which we colour, shape, individualize, moralize, defend, and display the unique vibrancy of our truest selves.

Why do you place such an importance on youth mental health? 

I spent more time in health class putting condoms on bananas than ever having discussions about mental health. Our emotional exploration, navigation, and hurdles percolate in tandem with our bodies and life experience. I left high-school knowledgeable in everything from Shakespeare’s sonnets, to calculus and media production but zero education about mental health. For generations it has been one of the education system’s greatest failings not encouraging emotional literacy to be taught and tested in a safe environment. We’re meant to move into adulthood with the tools for a prosperous life, but I’m a living example of someone who lived in darkness too long because I didn’t have the words to describe it, or authenticate it to anyone who’s never experienced it. It’s why I love jack.org - you encourage the right discussion at exactly the right time. 

You've been a big supporter of Indigenous health, specifically mental health. What have been your biggest takeaways?

So much of our mental health comes down to our sense of self, and societal validation, especially for those who are ‘different.’ I’ve learned the greatest path forward with Indigenous mental health is to allow the community to regain their sense of self and culture, which has been deliberately beaten out of a remarkable group of people for hundreds of years. The pride of tradition, ceremony, and culture is a first step in creating a foundation for a resilient community to rise up and know that despite what Canadian society has been saying for years, the Indigenous people make each of us better. The Indigenous people make the world better.  The more non-Indigenous people learn to value the brilliance of the Indigenous community and encourage its practice publicly the healthier a community and country we will become.

What does Josh Hellyer's mental health revolution look like? 

Kicking down the aura of shame surrounding mental health. I openly talk about my battle with depression, alcoholism, the day I chose to end my life, and every line in between because at any given moment there’s at least one other person in the room struggling with the same things, but scared to say it. I’ve never been one to censor myself, and I’m not about to start now. I’m also 99% sure the people in my life would all agree that the world is a better place with Josh Hellyer being alive despite the occasional emotional turbulence. Honestly, if I could walk around all day in a shirt that says ‘I battle mental illness but am fabulous, and so are you’ – I would. Actually…this gives me an idea…watch this space...