Meet our Stigma-Free Scholarship Winner, Daphnée!

We’re excited to introduce Daphnée, one of our Stigma-Free Scholarship winners! In this interview, she shares about her inspiring journey and personal experiences with stigma as someone living with borderline personality disorder. Keep reading to learn more about her story!

When Daphnée was first diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), she felt a sense of hope and relief: she finally had a solution to the challenges she had been facing, was offered treatment, and gained access to dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT). But not long after her diagnosis, she realized how highly stigmatized BPD is – not only by the public, but by people who are widely viewed as experts on the topic, such as healthcare professionals and university professors. After hearing so many negative stereotypes about people living with BPD and seeing the amount of misinformation online, she learned that BPD was not widely accepted or understood.

Despite these challenges, Daphnée turned her feelings of shame that she felt because of stigma into motivation: she currently works as a Youth Peer Support Worker, where she shares her story and teaches coping skills to youth between the ages of 12 and 24. She advocates for people who can’t advocate for themselves. “When you face stigma, it can be absolutely devastating and invalidating,” Daphnée remarks. “I want to give them back that sense of empowerment that they’re worthy and lovable even though we live in a society where if you’re mentally ill, you face judgment and even discrimination.”

She also overcomes stigma by sharing her experiences publicly through writing. “It’s like I don’t have to hide anymore, and that’s really empowering,” she says. “When I write things and people feel like the piece is relatable to them, that really helps.” Her writing helps break down the stigma around BPD, and she often gets feedback from readers that they relate to her and feel less alone. The biggest lessons she’s taken away from her experience with mental health and stigma are that she can make a positive difference, and that it’s possible to gain a sense of resilience and empowerment despite stigma.

Daphnée plans to continue providing mental health support to others and breaking the stigma around mental illness through her career and academic pursuits. She is currently majoring in English Literature and minoring in Education. Her goal is to pursue a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology and practice as a Registered Psychotherapist. She hopes that her experience with stigma will give her insight into what her clients are feeling, and help them overcome the challenging feelings that result from stigma. “People with lived experience make the best mental health professionals because they’ve been there,” she points out. We are delighted to support her postsecondary studies through our Stigma-Free Scholarship offered in partnership with the Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance!

If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and are facing stigma because of it, Daphnée offers words of hope and encouragement: “Validate yourself and show yourself compassion. You’re doing the best that you can.” She also emphasizes the importance of reaching out for peer support if you’re feeling stigmatized and alone in your struggles. Through DBT, Daphnée has learned exercises that she practices herself and shares with others. Mindfulness, boundary-setting, and building positive experiences are all coping skills that she’s found to be effective. She focuses on what she’s passionate about and pursues goals that give her a sense of meaning.

Daphnée leaves us with valuable tips for how we can work together to help reduce the stigma around BPD and other mental illnesses: educate yourself, and most importantly, talk to people who have lived experience. “It’s easy to read a flyer or pamphlet, but it will never beat sitting down with someone with BPD, listening to their story, and learning what’s helped them,” she says. Moreover, finding the right source of information is critical. “Don’t believe everything you read online!” She reminds us. She suggests reading books that speak about BPD in a compassionate and informative way, and educating yourself on available treatments.

Congratulations Daphnée! Thank you for sharing your story with us. The team at Stigma-Free Society admires the meaningful work you do and wishes you the best of luck in the future!

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!

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holidays

Although it’s important to prioritize mental health year-round, it can be difficult to make time for self-care during the holidays. If you are struggling this season and it seems like everyone around you is in high spirits, know that you’re not alone: 38% of people report feeling more stressed around the holidays due to financial burdens, shortage of time, and family get-togethers.

The holidays can be especially difficult for people who have a mental illness: 64% say that their symptoms intensify at this time of year. Moreover, many people who have lost a loved one are dealing with deep sadness and grief during the holidays. These are just a few of the reasons why it’s helpful to learn strategies to care for your mental health around this time. Here are some simple ways that you can prioritize mental wellness during the holiday season.

Allow Yourself to Feel Your Emotions

If you’re not feeling your best, try to acknowledge and accept your emotions as they are. Around the holidays, there’s sometimes a pressure to act joyful and match the energy of your friends or family. Be gentle with yourself and remain mindful of your emotions rather than ignoring or masking them. It’s easy to get swept up in everyday tasks at this time of year and put emotional wellness on the backburner. Being aware of your feelings can help you manage your mental health and recognize when you need a break or extra support.

Set Boundaries and Communicate Your Needs

Between family gatherings and gift shopping, the holidays can be overwhelming, especially if you’re coping with mental illness. You may not feel up to participating in every activity that you’re invited to, and that’s okay! Giving yourself permission to set limits and say no can minimize stress and allow you to have more time for yourself. It also helps to communicate your needs and your schedule with your loved ones so that they can plan accordingly, and avoid additional conflict or stress.

Recognize Your Triggers

Psychologist Elsa Ronningstam recommends keeping an eye out for triggers during the holidays, like certain memories or stressful events that tend to be a recurring pattern every year. Knowing your triggers can help you plan ahead and reduce their effects. Finding small ways to alleviate pressure, like online gift shopping or asking guests ahead of time to help with meal prep, can also help manage stress.

Reach Out for Support

Lean on friends and family members you trust for support, or reach out to a mental health professional. Talking to loved ones about what you’re going through can help you feel validated and heard. It can also provide an opportunity for them to help, whether that’s providing a listening ear or helping with tasks like shopping or preparing to host. It might even encourage them to share their feelings with you – you might find that others are having a similar experience as you during the holiday season, and are reluctant to talk about it.

If you are looking for professional help, use this tool to find a therapist near you, or click here to access free support if you live in Canada. You can also visit our help and resources page.

Forming Habits That Serve Our Mental Wellbeing

You probably have daily habits that you don’t think much about, like having a cup of coffee in the morning or brushing your teeth before bed. Some habits set us up for success and greatly improve our quality of life. Others may not serve our mental health or hold us back from achieving our goals.

If you’ve ever tried to break a habit, you know that it’s sometimes easier said than done! But why are they so hard to break? Habits are often based on feelings of pleasure or reward. When you engage in a behaviour that feels good, your brain releases dopamine, also known as the “happy hormone.” This dopamine hit makes us want to keep performing the pleasurable habit, even if we know that it doesn’t serve us. This explains why so many people have a hard time kicking habits that provide a temporary reward but have long-term consequences, such as smoking.

Forming new habits

Ideally, we want to implement habits we feel good about into our day to day lives and get to a point where we do them automatically. But how long does this take exactly? Studies show that you must repeat a behaviour for an average of 66 days for it to become automatic, and it takes between 18 and 254 days to form a new habit.

Psychologist Benjamin Gardner points out that we perform habits because of impulse rather than intentional thought. In contrast, routines are actions that you consciously think about before you do them. For example, cleaning your home once a week or journaling daily might be something that you do intentionally because it serves your wellbeing. Over time, you can turn routines into habits by repeating them regularly.

To form habits that you feel good about and break ones that don’t serve you, a great place to start is to identify and avoid your triggers. Ask yourself: is there anything in your environment that usually triggers your impulse to perform the habit? You might notice that you feel more tempted to do it when you’re around certain people or in a certain location. Noticing these cues and steering clear of them can help you break a habit. Another easy tip is to replace your habit with a new one that serves your wellbeing.

Let’s use an example to put these steps into practice. Imagine that you have a habit of checking your phone before bedtime every night. You want to stop this habit because you find it disrupts your sleep. One way to get rid of the temptation is to keep your phone outside of your bedroom at night, rather than on your bedside table within arm’s reach. You’ll be less likely to start answering texts or scrolling on social media if you don’t have easy access to it! To replace this habit, you could start reading a book or journaling before bed. These are both alternative ways to wind down and get your mind off things before you go to sleep.

You can prioritize your new habit by creating reminders for yourself. Set a reminder on your phone or write it down on your to-do list each day. This will help you implement the habit into your schedule, and eventually turn it into an automatic routine. Remember that patience is key for habit formation. Have compassion for yourself – breaking habits that don’t serve us and forming new ones is challenging! Don’t feel pressure to be successful right away. Slipping back into an old habit every once in a while is a normal part of the process. When this happens, it’s helpful to reflect on what caused the setback and focus on what you can do to make it easier for you to stick to your new habit in the future.

How to Improve Your Mental Health Through Journaling

Are you looking for a new activity to implement in your self-care routine? Journaling is an easy and effective way to boost your mental health and overall wellness. Many people keep a journal simply to record their memories, but it can also be used to improve your mood and develop a more positive mindset over time. Journaling can be particularly useful for those with mental illness: studies show that it builds resilience, reduces depressive symptoms, and helps manage anxiety. While journaling isn’t a replacement for mental health treatment or the advice of a medical professional, it’s a helpful tool for self-reflection that can help you process your thoughts and feelings. Keep reading for tips on how you can use journaling to improve your mental health!

How to Start Journaling

First, choose your format. Some people prefer the experience of writing by hand, while others find it easier to use an app or keep a journal on their phone or laptop. The key is to choose a format that’s the easiest and most enjoyable for you. That way, you’ll be more likely to write frequently and get the mental health benefits of daily journaling. If you don’t know where to start, you can experiment with different styles and find what works best. Maybe you prefer to list out your feelings, include drawings, or use prompts.

When you begin journaling, write freely and without judgement. One of the reasons why journaling can be so therapeutic is because it’s an outlet where you can be 100% honest with yourself, without worrying about what others might think of you. If you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed as you’re writing, remind yourself that this is a safe space to express your personal thoughts and feelings.

To get the most out of your journal, use it to keep track of your emotions. If you find yourself having a strong reaction to a situation – whether it’s positive or negative – write down what happened and how you’re feeling. This process can help you identify triggers and notice patterns in how different places or people affect your mood.

Journal Prompts for Mental Health

Try using the following journal prompts to work through difficult emotions:

  • How am I feeling at this moment?
  • How are these thoughts and emotions affecting my behaviour?
  • Is there another way to view this situation?

What is one thing I can do to change my mindset right now?

Journaling is a great tool to help you engage in positive self-talk. If you’re looking to boost your self-esteem, try the following prompts:

  • Name 3 things you love about yourself.
  • How would your family and friends describe you?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment?

You can also include affirmations in your journal practice. Affirmations are phrases that you can repeat to yourself that brighten your mood and make you feel more self-confident. They usually begin with the words “I am.” Try writing down your own affirmations and repeating them in your mind or in front of the mirror. For example, you might write, “I am valuable. I am strong. I deserve happiness.” When deciding which affirmations to use, it might help to ask yourself: what do you feel you need to hear most right now?

Finally, if you’re journaling about a topic that brings up intense emotions, it’s helpful to end on a positive note. To do this, you can write down 5 things you are grateful for. This could be a loved one, a fun experience you’ve had recently, or something small like getting a good night’s sleep. You can also implement this gratitude exercise into your morning routine to start the day off with a positive attitude, or as a pick-me-up when you’re feeling down.

Coping With Loneliness and Social Isolation

If you are feeling lonely right now, you might be relieved to find out how many people are going through the same thing. There’s a social stigma around loneliness that sometimes prevents people from talking about their experience openly, which can make them feel even more isolated. But the reality is, loneliness has become a fairly common experience, especially since the pandemic began. About 1 in 10 Canadians report feeling often or always lonely, and 1 in 4 people say they wish they had more friends. There are also misconceptions surrounding loneliness: even if someone has a lot of friends and acquaintances, they can still feel lonely. Someone might struggle with loneliness simply because the relationships in their life aren’t fulfilling enough. The good news is, there are many things you can do to feel more connected and satisfied with your friendships! Here are some tips on how to cope with loneliness in a healthy, productive way.

Get to the Root of Your Loneliness

Taking time to self-reflect and figure out why you’re feeling alone is the first step to addressing it. Maybe you are surrounded by people who are different from you and you feel like an outcast, or you’ve moved to a new town and are having a hard time making friends. Understanding your situation and talking about your feelings with a mental health professional can help you decide what the best next step is. Do you need to reach out to friends and family more often, or spend time with people who you have more in common with? Sometimes, feelings of loneliness can be alleviated by embracing the situation, learning to enjoy your own company, and spending time doing things you enjoy.

Less Comparison, More Appreciation

In this day and age, it’s easy to compare ourselves to others and feel lonely as a consequence. Social media can fool us into thinking that most people have more active social lives than we do, even if that’s not really the case. Taking a break from social media may help you avoid the comparison trap. When you’re feeling lonely, try to refrain from comparing your relationships to others both online and in real life. Instead, take a step back and appreciate the people who are already in your life or things that bring you joy.

Cultivate Self-Compassion

There’s no need to beat yourself up for feeling lonely! It’s always important to be kind to yourself and develop a positive inner dialogue, but this is especially true when you’re experiencing loneliness. One way to practice self-compassion is to ask yourself: what would I say to a close friend who was going through this? Chances are, you wouldn’t put them down even further; you’d be supportive and uplifting. You deserve the same treatment! Try to reframe your thoughts and speak to yourself as you would someone you love.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness can play a huge role in reducing the self-stigma of loneliness. When we’re mindful, we are not judging ourselves – we’re fully aware and absorbed in the present moment. Tuning into your senses and what’s going on around you can help reduce any negative thoughts you may have about feeling lonely.

Finally, reassure yourself that feeling lonely at times is totally normal and natural! As humans, we are social creatures and have a natural aversion to loneliness. Ironically, many people share the experience of feeling alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trusted friend and/or counsellor to talk out your feelings. Remember to practice gratitude, focus on what you have rather than compare yourself to others, and replace negative self-talk with more positive, compassionate thoughts.

Apply Today for a $2000 Stigma-Free Scholarship for Post-Secondary Students

The Stigma-Free Society is extremely proud to announce that we are once again partnering with Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance to offer TWO deserving post-secondary students.

Two $2000 scholarships will be allocated toward their educational pursuits!

This is the forth year that the Society has been able to provide these amazing scholarships and it is because of our valuable relationship with Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance. We are proud of the work each recipient has completed over the past few years in the area of educating themselves on how to help eradicate stigma through awareness and education.

Scholarships will be awarded to two students, who have experienced or are currently experiencing the effects of stigma because of mental illness, LGBTQ2+, homelessness, race or addictions issues. Additional related experiences will also be considered.

Criteria to apply:

  • Be a current Resident of British Columbia, Canada;
  • Must have dealt with, or are currently dealing with the effects of stigma in their life;
  • Complete an application form with Cover Letter for the Society’s review;
  • The Society hopes to feature each student’s story on their website and anonymity is also permitted if preferred;
  • Must be accepted and registered at an accredited educational institution for the Spring 2023 Semester – Jan. 2023
  • Deadline to Apply is November 30th, 2022

Applications are now closed

The Stigma-Free Society works to raise awareness and mental health education to students, parents and educators on how to help stop stigma. We provide space for those who have been on the receiving end of stigma and offer support, understanding and acceptance.

Thank you.

Thank you to the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for your generosity as these scholarships would not be possible without your financial contribution.

Oya’s Story as a Woman With ADHD

In light of ADHD Awareness Month, Stigma-Free Society recently had a conversation with Oya, a woman who was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Oya is a Teaching Assistant, researcher, and graduate student. Read about her experience below!

How has living with ADHD affected different areas of your life, such as your career or relationships?

Looking back, I would choose jobs that were very busy to combat boredom. I had to be doing something at all times. If not, I would be so bored, I would get teary. I didn’t know that this was about stimulation (being under or overstimulated): I preferred urgent and stressful tasks because it was stimulating to me!

I remember having to interrupt friends often so that I didn’t forget what I was trying to say. Waiting and slowing down was difficult for me, which is typical for someone with ADHD. I have the predominantly hyperactive presentation of ADHD, but throughout my life when I didn’t know that, I was just labeled as having a larger than life personality, or being quirky and bubbly.

It is common for women with ADHD to be misdiagnosed with another mental illness before receiving an ADHD diagnosis. When were you diagnosed, and did you have this experience?

Yes, I too belong to that group of people where I got diagnoses for co-occurring conditions before ADHD, specifically depression and anxiety. I was diagnosed in 2020, and I was 25 years old at the time. So, quite late – but I hear so many stories of women getting diagnosed even later. During times when I didn’t have much going on and there was a lack of routine, like Christmas break, I would enter a depressive episode. At first, my family doctor thought it was seasonal depression, but I also struggled with depression in the summer after my first year of university. We realized the problem was that when I don’t have a clear structure or routine in my life, I get very under-stimulated.

Since I knew this pattern but did not understand what was wrong, I got stuck in that cycle throughout my university years. I tried to combat it by overbooking myself in my second year of university: I had 4 part-time jobs on campus at one time. I was stressed, but that was better than feeling sluggish. It was all an effort to have structure and routine. People with ADHD have a hard time with organization and task initiation when there is no routine.

Looking back, did you have any early signs of ADHD growing up?

Absolutely. I was never a disruptive kid, but I had too much energy and would talk a lot. When things interested me, I had obsessive focus. I excelled in things that interested me, but failed in areas that did not interest me at the time.

I was happiest when I had a clear structure to my day and when I was busy. I had so much energy that my parents and teachers would try to “tire me out,” and this was an everyday task. Now when I feel like this, I try to channel that burst of energy and put it to good use!

How do you successfully manage ADHD? What are some coping strategies that work for you?

A big one is making sure that I have enough going on. I have this optimal level of “busy” where I’m very happy. When I’m predicting a slow period without a lot of routine, I try to plan ahead and create some sort of structure for myself.

I also utilize the loved ones in my life to help me with things I struggle with. I used to have shame around this, but everyone needs help with certain things, and it’s okay to ask for help. For example, I do a lot of “body doubling” with friends. It’s pretty much 2 or more people working on a call together. We each work on our own stuff, but the presence of the other person is motivating to me.

In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about women with ADHD?

ADHD symptoms definitely get overlooked in women, even when we are struggling. This could be because girls often exhibit the predominantly inattentive presentation of ADHD, like daydreaming and not paying attention. But parents expect to see the predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation that is more often seen in boys.

Also, girls tend to be less disruptive than boys with ADHD. Societal norms about how we are expected to behave play a role in this. Even though I have the hyperactive predominant type, I masked my symptoms quite well over the years to be less disruptive to the people around me.

Tell us about your research! How has your experience with ADHD shaped your approach to this work?

I know my strengths and weaknesses. I ask my supervisor for clear deadlines to stay on track, and I like having many things on the go at once. I believe this makes me a well-rounded research trainee. I’m working on my thesis and other exciting projects, and I participate in a lot of knowledge translation and science communication efforts. I do a lot of professional development activities as well. I feel like reaching an optimal level of busyness – enough stimulation where I’m not overly stressed but also not bored – can be difficult. But once I find that sweet spot, I’m in a good place mentally!

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

When you hear the words “obsessive compulsive disorder,” what comes to mind? Like other mental health disorders, there are stereotypes about OCD that lead to misunderstanding and perpetuate stigma. For example, many people falsely believe that if someone is diagnosed with OCD, it simply means they are exceptionally tidy and organized. In reality, people with OCD have symptoms that can seriously impact their quality of life. By educating yourself on the various components of OCD, you can gain a sense of awareness and become more empathetic to what those with this disorder may be going through. So, let’s learn more together and help break the stigma.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

The two main symptoms of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are disturbing and repetitive thoughts that individuals with OCD feel like they can’t control. These thoughts cause extreme emotional discomfort, and can include intense urges or fears. Most people with OCD recognize that their obsessions are not necessarily logical, but they are still unable to stop them. Obsessions lead to compulsions: behaviours that are done to counteract or stop these intrusive thoughts. Compulsions may provide temporary relief, but they are not a long-term solution.

People with OCD experience a pattern of these obsessions and compulsions. It starts with an intrusive thought that makes them feel anxious or distressed. Then they engage in compulsive behaviour to counteract this feeling, and the cycle repeats. Although OCD is categorized by these broad symptoms, not everyone’s experience with OCD is the same. There are different types of OCD, such as double-checking and doubt, where someone may doubt their own memory and perception. This can cause them to repeat behaviours. For instance, someone may lock their door, and a few minutes later doubt whether it was locked correctly. As a result, they check and recheck the door multiple times. Relationship OCD can cause people to obsess over whether they are with the right person, or constantly analyze and question their partner’s qualities. These are just some examples of how OCD can manifest.

We all second-guess ourselves sometimes, and it’s not uncommon for people to have doubts about their relationship. However, OCD is more than just occasional obsession or worry. For someone to be diagnosed with OCD, obsessions and compulsions must be affecting them to the point where it interferes with their daily life. Not only does it cause emotional distress, but they spend at least an hour per day in this cycle of obsessions and compulsions.

Treatment for OCD

Psychotherapy is an effective treatment for people with OCD. More specifically, exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) works well to reduce the frequency of obsessions and compulsions. In EX/RP, the client works with a mental health professional to learn how to be in a situation that usually triggers their compulsions, without actually engaging in the compulsion. Medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) also help reduce symptoms.

Breaking the Stigma

Stigma and fear of judgement can prevent people with OCD from seeking treatment or talking about what they’re going through. To break the stigma, we must first look inward and pay attention to our own feelings about those with OCD and other mental disorders. There are some questions you can ask yourself to self-reflect and recognize whether you hold certain stereotypes. For instance, do you feel like you wouldn’t be able to date or be friends with someone who had OCD? If you were recruiting for a job, would you be less likely to hire them solely because they have a mental disorder? It’s helpful to address thoughts like this and acknowledge how they contribute to stigma. And when you hear someone make a harmful or untrue comment about OCD – or any mental illness – it’s important to speak up! By correcting our misconceptions and encouraging others to do the same, together we can create a stigma-free world.

Peer Support Training for Rural Residents – Sign Up Today for our Fall 2022 Session

In partnership with Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH, the Stigma-Free Society is proud to announce our upcoming Peer Support Worker Training sessions, tailored specifically for rural residents in Canada. This two-day virtual course will be held on October 25 and November 1 (8am – 4pm PST, 10am – 6pm CST, 11am – 7pm EST, with breaks). This training will equip participants to facilitate peer support programs and become leaders in their communities. 

These sessions empower individuals with shared backgrounds to work together to develop wellness-related skills. Taking this training is a great opportunity to find and provide support for mental health, along with those who understand your way of life!

What is Peer Support?

The Mental Health Commission of Canada describes peer support as “a supportive relationship between people who have a lived experience in common.” The benefits of this approach to emotional and social support have been proven time and time again.

One of the most reputable Canadian providers of peer support training is Robyn Priest LIVE YOUR TRUTH, an organization that offers online training for both individuals and families. This training focuses on holistic approaches to wellbeing and practical strategies for promoting empathy and communicating effectively. Robyn Priest emphasizes that “peer support isn’t limited to mental health or addiction issues. It can be about anything anyone is going through; about life.” As human beings, we have a deep need for belonging. In addition to bridging gaps in professional mental health services, peer support can help us to build the connections we crave.

Peer Support in Rural Communities

Recent publications from the Mental Health Commission of Canada have emphasized that those living in rural and remote communities face specific challenges when it comes to maintaining wellness. These challenges include a relative lack of professional support services such as psychologists or counsellors. In these contexts, peer support is a great option. Because peer support is easily done over video chat, it can be a highly accessible resource.

No one understands the life and struggles of those living and working in agricultural communities better than those who have that shared experience. Training as a peer support worker will help you to translate that empathy into compassionate action. 

Key Benefits of Peer Support Training

Participants will gain an understanding of peer support fundamentals, as well as how to apply them in the contexts of one-on-one support and group facilitation. They will also learn how to share personal experiences in ways that help those facing similar challenges, including tips about demonstrating self-reflection and vulnerability while still maintaining professionalism. 

The training includes discussion and reflection on the importance of self-care as a regular practice, along with strategies for incorporating it into your daily life. Supporting others can be an emotionally challenging task, making it all the more important to take an intentional and holistic approach to your own wellbeing. 

Overall, participants can expect to gain valuable knowledge and skills that will help them to do work that is nourishing, caring, and empathic—as a peer support worker or a support group facilitator, and indeed in all walks of life.

This rewarding work opens up many opportunities to cultivate strong and supportive communities. The possibilities are there for you to discover!

Training and Registration Details

Tailored specifically for rural residents in Canada, this two-day virtual course will take place on October 25 and November 1 (8:30am – 4:30pm PST, 10:30am – 6:30pm CST, 11:30am – 7:30pm EST, with breaks). 

Thanks to a generous grant from Pacific Blue Cross BC, this training only requires a $50 registration fee and is a $375 value per person.

Donations are always welcome! 

For more information and to register, please go HERE or email info@stigmafreesociety.com for more information.

Spots fill up quickly, so register today! Don’t miss this amazing opportunity to build skills for cultivating empathy and understanding in your local community.