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Breaking the stigma around mental health

Mohawk College’s Jack.org club is all about mental health. If you are passionate about mental health and working to reduce the stigma surrounding it, this club may be the perfect fit.

Jack.org is a Canada-wide mental health advocacy organization with plenty of chapters and ways to get involved. The organization goes to high schools and post-secondary schools to help break stigmas and get the word out about mental health, awareness and advocacy.

The club meets on Thursday evenings, and members spend most of the time brainstorming events they can work on throughout the semester.

Claudia Meneguzzi was inspired to start the Mohawk College chapter of Jack.org when she first came to the school for the post-grad certificate in Mental Health and Disability Management. She had been involved in McMaster’s chapter and when she realized there wasn’t a club at Mohawk focusing on mental health, she knew she wanted to start one.

“There wasn’t really a wellness or mental health-related club. There are obviously resources on campus but even then, there’s always room for more,” she said. “Realistically, Jack.org’s only chapter in Hamilton was at McMaster, so I think in terms of its representation in the Hamilton area, it’s good to have more.”

Students share their tips to relax.
Events often feature a positive affirmation board to inspire others.

After applying to start the club, and once the ratification process was done, the meetings began in November 2022.

The first initiative included introducing Mohawk to Jack.org, the second included introducing Jack.org to Mohawk, and the third initiative was creating a mental health resource list online.

The list includes crisis lines, apps, and in-person counselling resources not only at Mohawk, but in the Hamilton area.

Students write down daily affirmations during a Wellness event.
Events are an opportunity to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

“This semester, the club will continue to focus on planning events such as a craft night happening in February, a coffee house in March and a puppy stress reliever in April,” Meneguzzi said. “The club will also be working on a social media weekly wellness campaign where we will post something new that is wellness-related. This will include tips to prevent burnout during exams, tips for starting a new semester, and even some easy recipes for baking so people can take care of themselves.”

“I have personal experience with mental health in my family but I have dealt with some struggles myself,” she continued. “I was fortunate enough to have lovely family around me to help support me during that time and I did seek help as well. After I sought the help and I got past the whole stigma side of it, I realized how important it was to spread that word to other people.”

Other club members remember similar stories.

“I’ve dealt with mental health in the past. I’m really interested in helping people as I want to be a nurse and I felt like it would be a great club to join,” Jannie Dorway said. “I wanted to help spread awareness to people that it’s okay if you don’t feel good all the time.”

“I’ve had experience, personal experiences with mental health issues and I feel like it is important to address it in every way, especially because in my culture we barely talk about it, it’s a taboo,” Rahma Noushin said. “I know there are times where I don’t feel like doing anything or there are times where even the smallest thing would be a big chore for me and it would take over my mind and my experiences. It would be on and off and really stressful.”

To join the club or if you have any questions you can email jack.orgmohawk@gmail.com or message the group on Instagram @jack.orgMohawk

There is no application process to join, let them know you are interested and the club will send over information before confirming your entry.

Members will likely be asked to work some events put on by the club but are not pressured to attend every weekly meeting.

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