Lisa’s Story: Meet Our Stigma-Free Scholarship Winner!

Meet Lisa, one of the winners of our Stigma-Free Scholarship offered in partnership with the Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance! After being raised in an environment where mental health was considered “taboo,” Lisa was reluctant to seek mental health support and faced many challenges as a result of stigma. Now, she has found her voice and is doing outstanding work to eliminate stigma and help others on their journey. Keep reading to learn more about her story!

Growing up, Lisa was raised with the idea that mental health was taboo and not something to be prioritized or talked about. She worked hard to achieve high grades, and in the meantime, her mental health was put on the back burner. “I never felt that I could share my feelings or thoughts with my parents,” she explains. “I kept things to myself. Because I was raised that way, it didn’t occur to me that my mental health was a problem that I should take steps to resolve or seek help for.”

Lisa didn’t seek support until a teacher expressed concern for her when she was in high school. “I was in school and I just had a breakdown in the middle of class,” she explained. Her teacher suggested that she seek professional help and informed her parents about the situation. It was difficult for Lisa to reach out: “Showcasing vulnerability is something that I was always afraid to do, and that ties into asking for help.”

Now as a university student, Lisa encourages others to seek support. She has taken initiative to reduce stigma in her community and help others find the mental health resources they need. In high school, she became involved in student-led initiatives. The first was an initiative that aimed to reduce the stigma around homelessness and find solutions for people who are homeless. This sparked her passion for helping others, and in university she became the Philanthropy Coordinator for a campus organization called Young Women in Business. In addition, she is a Senator for the Undergraduate Student Body at her university, where she listens to students’ concerns and advocates for changes to improve their wellbeing and learning.

In these roles, she gives students a voice and strives to raise awareness about mental health, stigma, and social issues: “I think it’s important to showcase that I’m available to students and that they’re able to reach out. I can direct them to the resources that are available and implement changes that they need. Knowing who to reach out to and that support system is really important,” she adds.

Lisa is currently studying Business Administration at Simon Fraser University. One of her ultimate goals is to engage in philanthropy and use her education to create change and alleviate stigma. “Being able to help others, share my story, and raise awareness is a kind of therapy for me. I hope to incorporate it in my career.” Her business education has also given her a unique perspective on stigma. She emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about various social issues on a corporate level: “With business, one thing I’ve learned so far through my courses is that corporate social responsibility is an important factor. Even though it doesn’t tie in directly, philanthropy and raising awareness of social issues is something that I hope to incorporate through corporate responsibility.”

The biggest lesson she’s learned through her experience with stigma and mental health is that it gets better. “In the moment, it’s always really hard and difficult to see the end of it. But I proved to myself that I can overcome any problem.” She also offers an empowering message to those who are struggling and seeking recovery: “It’s not something that can happen overnight – you’ll have good days and bad days. There are factors out of your control, but making that commitment to yourself that you’re willing to find a solution is really important. You know yourself best. Do what’s best for you. The resources and help you need are available.” When it comes to reducing stigma, Lisa suggests that people remain open-minded, stay up to date with current information and research, and “share facts rather than opinions.”

Congratulations Lisa! We are incredibly proud of the work you do and wish you the best of luck in your academic endeavours!