"Finances and mental health are two important, valuable, and relevant aspects of our lives, and they become deeply intertwined in adulthood." Radha Saika, President of UAlberta’s Jack Chapter, on the connection between mental health and financial literacy. Play video Mental Health & Financial Literacy The entrepreneurs of Enactus UAlberta and the mental health advocates of the resident Jack Chapter came together as a community to step up and tear down a long-standing barrier to student wellness. Combining their areas of expertise, the dynamic duo pioneered a workshop where financial literacy meets mental health 101, taking it upon themselves to fill a gap in knowledge that affects the financial and mental health of students across the country. The workshop —an adaptation of Enactus’ NextStep initiative—made an award-winning debut, weaving together topics like tax filing, loan and credit management, and the intersection of financial literacy with mental health. After the project got the attention of the Ministry of Education, we sat down with Radha Saika, President of UAlberta’s Jack Chapter, to see what the future of the workshop (dubbed “NextStep x Jack.org UAlberta”) might look like. What is the connection between mental health and financial literacy? Finances are typically a non-negotiable part of our lives, just like mental health. The relationship between the two becomes especially relevant when one transitions from high school to post-secondary—when one gets their first credit card, takes on their first loan, and manages their own living expenses. Bad finances can have a negative impact on your mental health and vice versa. That's why it's important to emphasize the importance of having a hold over both aspects of one’s life, and how they interact. What’s the expected impact of the project? The goal is to deliver valuable training to high school and university students at a critical time in their lives. In a presentation at Enactus Nationals Canada, the UAlberta team won the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Award, securing the attention and resources to meet this goal. NextStep is now in talks with the Ministry of Education, providing feedback on the mental health portion of the Albertan K-12 curriculum overhaul, and projecting that 300,000 young people will be reached by this training. Feedback has been positive so far, with attendees of the workshop reporting the skills learned proved useful within a 6-month window. What do you hope will happen as a result? The more we empower people to take control of their financial wellbeing, and the earlier we do it, the greater the positive outcomes. Finances and mental health are two important, valuable, and relevant aspects of our lives, and they become deeply intertwined in adulthood. Understanding debt, being able to budget more responsibly, knowing how to file our taxes with ease, and knowing how to manage the stress that comes with all of the above will help lay a foundation for a better life. At a time where student debt is so high and mental health struggles are so common, this foundation is more important than ever. Why is this project important to you? I am passionate about empowering youth to take control of their own lives and make the decisions best for them and their own communities. I believe that youth are the future, and we need to support them to be the best versions of themselves as early as possible. Empowering young people empowers society.