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Jack.org Network Rep, Alex San Diego reflects on National #JackSummit and speaks to transforming insufficient mental health systems.
Jack.org Network Rep, Alex San Diego reflects on National #JackSummit and speaks to transforming insufficient mental health systems.

Jack.org Network Rep, Alex San Diego reflects on National #JackSummit and speaks to transforming insufficient mental health systems.

"We are sick of seeing our peers bravely come forward...only to slip through the cracks of underperforming mental health services."
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National #JackSummit 2019: Revolution Now.

There’s no point breaking the stigmatization and silence of those struggling with their mental health if their voices ultimately fall on deaf ears. We -- the Jack.org Network Representatives -- are sick of seeing our peers bravely come forward with their struggles only to slip through the cracks of underperforming mental health services. We’re finished losing our friends and our voices to systems that cannot help us and do not hear us.

Starting healthy and stigma-free conversations will always be an important part of mental health advocacy, and indeed when there is less stigma, it’s easier to encourage those we care about to seek out support and resources. But when these resources are inadequately funded or difficult to access, our encouragement only means so much. We want to be able to point our friends to resources that can actually accommodate them.

This is why hundreds of young mental health advocates came together in Toronto for the 2019 National #JackSummit: it’s time for systems-level change. It’s time to adequately equip the mental health sector to stop leaving so many of us behind.

The 2019 National #JackSummit was about starting a mental health #RevolutionNow, and bringing the powers that be to #OurTable to discuss and transform the insufficient mental health systems that have failed our peers. We trained to make every second spent on-camera and online count because we cannot afford to go unheard any longer. And it worked.

This year’s #JackSummit brought to #OurTable local and federal politicians, professional athletes, medical practitioners, religious leaders, post-secondary administrators, musicians and celebrity personalities. We spoke directly with the people who can enact the change we need to see, and they listened. On a personal note, even with seven years as an advocate under my belt, I never thought someone from my community would ever have the opportunity to talk change with the federal Minister of Health -- something I’m still shocked for having happened.

Now that this years #JackSummit has come and gone, I’m returning home to Edmonton with a brand-new awareness of my position and power as a young mental health advocate. I can take what I’ve observed and experienced as a member of an ever-growing network of fellow young leaders and leverage it to make change. I will talk to my university’s administration, my MLA, my MP -- anyone who wants to be on the right side of #RevolutionNow -- and say: “Look. These are the gaps in the system that leave young people suffering. This is the work we have to do, and we’ll all be stronger for doing it together”.

I'm very grateful to have found a platform with which to speak out about the state of youth mental health. I will continue using my voice in local and social media to bring attention to the need for inclusive, diverse and nationwide mental health education and resources. #JackSummit helped me remember what I bring to the table -- #OurTable -- and how crucial it is to keep making noise about the unmet needs of underrepresented communities across the country. This is the revolution, and it’s happening now.

Equally amazing Jack.org Network Reps, Bryan Young and Cameron Penny were featured on Global News in Winnipeg and Halifax speaking about the 2019 National #JackSummit 



You can also read Network Rep, Bryan Young's op-ed "Canada's youth need inclusive sexual health curriculum" at Jack.org Stories