How Educators Can Use our NEW COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit

The Stigma-Free Society has been extremely pleased with the feedback on our new Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit. This new Toolkit is an online community-based participatory program that aims to promote mental wellness in grades 4-6 and grades 7-12. Both parents and students have provided incredibly useful feedback on the site, and the Charity is working hard every day to provide accurate information, additional resources, updated activities and continued education for educators, parents and students.

During the BETA launch of the Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit, we recognized that not only will parents and students benefit from the information on the site, but this is an incredibly useful tool to Educators who are navigating online education.

We are beyond excited to announce that the Surrey School District (SSD) is piloting our new Online Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit with their Educators in the coming months. The SSD has been an incredible supporter of the Stigma-Free Society and we are grateful for the support of Daniel To, Principal of the Surrey School District. Our Charity is very much looking forward to receiving feedback from all people who are helping to educate youth and teens.

The Stigma-Free Society welcomes your input on our Wellness Toolkit as an educational resource to online teaching. Upon visiting https://stigmafreetoolkit.com, click on the Educators Tab, which leads you to useful downloadable resources and showcases a menu to explore the rest of the website.

The COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit will be useful to Educators in the following ways:

  1. Help generate conversations with students during their online schooling (see SFS Conversation Cards);
  2. Explain COVID-19 to students in different ways and be a useful tool to help ensure that all students have the same information about COVID-19 (see our Video Library); and
  3. Provide ideas and suggestions for parents on activities that their kids can do to keep busy (see Youth/Teen Activity Generator).

Here are just a few ideas on how Educators can use the new COVID-19 Wellness Toolkit in their online classrooms:

  1. Share ‘Ben’s Story During COVID-19 Comic’ with students and have them create their own comic with their personal experiences at home, and ask them to re-frame their reactions during COVID-19;
  2. Share one of the many downloadable resources (e.g. 10 Ways to Help Manage Anxiety) and have students draft strategies that work well for themselves;
  3. Similar to the activity generator, have students create a poster on what they are doing to stay healthy during COVID-19 and have them refer to the poster during times of boredom, or confusion;
  4. Have students watch one of the many videos on the site and write a response about how they felt during the video, what they learned and information that helped them the most; and
  5. Have students refer to the ‘Inspiring Stories’ Page and share their own stories on a submitable 2-3 minute video, or research inspiring historical figures.

We truly appreciate Educators and especially those who have taken the time to navigate our new Online COVID-19 Toolkit.Thank you so much for providing us with some very useful feedback. We look forward to hearing from our Educators and learning how you are using the site, as well as hearing any feedback or suggestions that you may have.

Much support to you all during this time.

Author, Lindsay Goulet, CDM, Stigma-Free Society

Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit – COMING SOON!

The Stigma-Free Society is bound and determined to continue to educate youth on mental health issues and combat stigma of all kinds. With COVID-19 putting a halt to our school presentations, we decided to create a new online Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit.

Our new online COVID-19 Toolkit Program will inform educators and students in grades 4-6 and grades 7-12 about mental well-being, with an emphasis on living a Stigma-Free life. Without significant guidance and support, many young people may end up suffering in silence and isolation. The COVID-19 Toolkit Program will work to eliminate this harmful reality, and instead, provide tools and resources in a home learning environment that opens up conversations free of stigma, particularly about mental health while encouraging overall wellness. We are excited to be able to provide an extremely useful online resource for not only our youth and teens but also for parents and educators.

Here are just a few of the areas we are including in the online COVID-19 Wellness Toolkit:

  • Daily updated information from reputable sources on COVID-19 and its impact on Canadians;
  • Resources and mental health assessments for youth and teens, so they are able to check in on their mental health;
  • Activity ideas for both youth and teens to help them stay busy when they are unable to see friends in person, or participate in their regular extracurricular activities;
  • A parent resource section with “Stigma-Free Conversation Cards” that provide parents with questions to ask their children to spark conversations about COVID-19 and mental health;
  • The website features a Comic Book called, “Ben’s Story,” which highlights a young person’s approach to the COVID-19 situation;
  • Numerous illustrated animations and a 10 Tips for Mental Health Booklet showcases healthy avenues for youth to care for their mental well-being;
  • Resources that are youth and teen-friendly so they can navigate the site themselves and learn more about COVID-19 and mental health; and
  • Live events that include Q&A’s with a psychologist, workouts with a fitness professional and so much more!

The Stigma-Free Society’s plans to launch our new COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit on April 13, 2020, and we are working hard to create an incredible site that parents, educators, youth and teens can easily navigate and learn from. During these uncertain times, it is important for our youth to feel connected and educated on what is happening in the world around them. We are striving to create a program that provides accurate and important information in a helpful and non-scary way.

It is more important than ever that our youth learn about mental health and wellness, and take steps to help maintain their mental health every day. We hope that our site will provide them with the information they need to stay in a positive state of mental health and also provide resources for them should they find themselves struggling with their new reality.

Stay tuned for more information. We are also open to suggestions, so if you have an idea of what you’d like to see included in the Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your ideas at [email protected]

~Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager

Take Care of Yourself! Mental Health Supports during COVID-19 Crisis

Author Daniel To, District Principal, Surrey School District (Guest Post)

Take Care of Yourself! Mental Health Supports during COVID-19 Crisis

Other than for those who are true introverts – and are really relishing this current opportunity to stay home during the COVID19 crisis – (aka my father and my brother Dr. Nathan To https://www.thecounterstory.com) this time of social distancing and quasi isolation can be uncomfortable, even frightening for many folks. Many rely on social interaction – with co-workers, with classmates, with extended family, with friends – more than they even realize and when forced to suddenly cease contact, the shock to the mind and heart can be more than some are used to or able to bear.

Understanding the need to reach out and socialize in a different way is key to “making it” during these stressful and turbulent times. However, if the various forms of online actions are no enough, and you feel yourself in a grey or even dark place, consider reaching out to one of the following resources to support your own mental health.

Here are some great resources – they are British Columbia and Canada focused. But, if you’re reading from elsewhere, I am sure similar resources exist in your community.

For Parents and Care Givers, School Professionals, Health Care Professionals and/ or Youth and Young Adults

Kelty Mental Health: https://keltymentalhealth.ca

Foundry BC: https://foundrybc.ca

Government of British Columbia (but great general information): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/managing-covid-stress

BC Child Youth  Mental Health: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-and-covid-19

Canadian Mental Health Association: https://cmha.ca/news/covid-19-and-mental-health

Personal Counselling

Vitality Collective: https://vitalitycollective.ca/online-therapy

Dr. Nathan To, RCC: https://www.thecounterstory.com TJR Counselling: http://www.tjrcounselling.com

If any readers want to suggest any other links – please email me/ tweet me or reply to this blog. I’ll take a look and add it if appropriate.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to our Medical Professionals and First Responders (yes capitalized on purpose). In this war – they are the vanguard of our defence. They are risking themselves every day to make sure we stay safe.

For them – for my wife Michelle who wants to keep us safe while she works at the hospital – please do your best to stay home.

To Visit Daniel’s Blog: https://www.drdanielto.com

Stigma Free Society’s Program Delivery & Covid-19

In light of the current uncertainty surrounding the spread of Covid-19; the Stigma Free Society has determined that our responsibility to our staff and the community is best served by suspending all group gatherings, school presentations and public interactions effectively immediately. As such, the women’s group meetings, school and business presentations and other activities, which would involve group assemblies in close proximity are canceled at this time.

Canada’s pandemic goals, which are first, to minimize serious illness and overall deaths, and second to minimize societal disruption among Canadians. This approach will guide Canada’s response to COVID-19. This guidance considers the Canadian context and is based on currently available scientific evidence, expert opinion and public health assumptions. We will continue to follow their lead and respond to their recommendations.

We thank you graciously for your understanding and we will resume our program delivery in the future when it is safe to do so.

Let’s support and continue to demonstrate kindness, understanding, and acceptance of ourselves and others during these challenging times.

From Battling Lifelong Stigmas to Scholarship Award Winner – Meet Juls

We are incredibly proud to introduce you to Juls Budau, winner of the Stigma-Free Society – Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance Scholarship. Registered in the Masters in Social Work program at the Northern University of British Columbia, Juls will use this scholarship money to pay for her tuition, something she wasn’t sure how she was going to cover before she won the scholarship. These scholarships are awarded to inspirational individuals who are working towards ending stigmas and encouraging change in the field of mental health.

Juls’ Story:

Since 16, Juls has fought against a variety of stigmas, including living in poverty, mental illness, drug use, self-harming and sexual abuse. After being diagnosed with ADHD at age 31 and self-medicating for years, Juls battled the stigmas around mental illness and drug use. Years after diagnosis, she has finally received the support, education and guidance she needed to be able to successfully dive into her graduate work.

Now 36, Juls has set her sights on helping change health care policy. Hoping that her research on how cycles of perpetuating criminalization and stigmatization affect attitudes of the public, service providers and drug users themselves regarding the overdose crisis will help health care providers create a pocket of openness of safety for stigmatized individuals.

A message from Juls:

When asked what message she would like to give others she said,

“If you feel like your being stigmatized, remember to look at the person doing the stigmatizing – you need to find the right people to have in your life and those that stigmatize you are not your people”.

Living with and battling the numerous stigmas she’s faced in her life, Juls happily announces that she has learned that she is strong and smart – and that a lot of the opinions and negative attitudes she faced had to do with greater systems and economic control. Now, by further educating herself in the area of social work, we’re sure she will make a positive impact and create the change she is hoping to create.

Congratulations on your scholarship, Juls. We cannot wait to see the great work we know you’re going to do in the area of stigmatization. We are beyond proud to announce you as one of our scholarship winners. Good luck to you!

Thank you to Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for their generous sponsorship in funding the Stigma-Free Society’s Stigma-Free Scholarships.

Author, Lindsay Goulet – Community Development Manager, SFS

#ThatWellnessThing – Join us at the Langley Education Centre – Feb. 26th, 2020

Join us to learn more about mental health and wellness at our 3rd Annual Open House & Community Resource Fair!

#ThatWellnessThing

WHEN: Wednesday February 26, 2020 – 4:30 – 7PM @ Langley Education Centre.
WHERE: 21405A 56 Avenue, Langley, B.C.

Students 16+, adults, and school staff welcome. No registration required.
Light refreshments and on site photo booth.

Join us for Presentations & Information Tables

 

  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Violence Prevention
  • Recreation
  • Counselling
  • Healthy Living
  • Substance Use

DOOR PRIZES!

#ThatWellnessThing

Embracing Emotions to Create Change: Meet Scholarship Winner Kristine Robles

With the support from the Otsuka-Lunbeck Alliance, we are so proud to announce Kristine Robles as one of the recipients of a Stigma-Free Society scholarship for post-secondary education. Kristine is currently enrolled as a full-time student in the Master of Counselling Psychology: School and Youth program at Adler University.

These scholarships are awarded to inspirational individuals who are working towards ending stigmas and encouraging change in the field of mental health. Kristine began her work in the field of mental health awareness as a volunteer for a Peer Support program that had a goal to defeat the stigma surrounding mental illness by debunking myths and encouraging others to talk about their struggles. Ultimately, the number one goal was to empower those in the program to  strive for a healthier lifestyle and mindset and to reach out when they needed the support to power through. Over time, Kristine’s passion grew and she felt a strong connection between herself and her community. She began volunteering for the Kids Help Phone Crisis text-line and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

But what inspired Kristine to begin working in the field of De-stigmatizing mental illness?

Growing up in a Collectivist Culture that values the needs of the community over the individual had Kristine bottling up her emotions for years and years. She grew up tending to the needs of others while ignoring her own. Bottling up her emotions for years eventually led to panic attacks any time she tried to open up. By holding in her emotions, Kristine began talking negatively about herself and very little self-confidence and self-esteem.

It wasn’t until her father attempted suicide that she realized the importance of opening up and talking about her emotions with her friends and family. She decided then and there  that the way she was living her life wasn’t sustainable and needed to change.

“This experience opened up my eyes and changed my family’s worldview about mental health. We all realized that we were struggling and unhappy. Unfortunately, it took a severe and serious turning point for this realization to occur. However, we started opening up to one another and accepted each other’s emotions openly and willingly. We no longer wanted to feel like a burden or shameful when wanting to express our feelings. This critical point has changed our lives forever and spiked my interest in mental health.”

From her personal struggles and her Dad’s battle against depression, Kristine decided that she wanted to do more than crisis intervention, she wanted to be able to provide therapy and counselling to those who need help. She has decided to put 100% of the scholarship toward her Masters program tuition and we are beyond proud of Kristine and the work she has done.

Good luck, Kristine. Thank you for helping educate others on the importance of emotional and mental health. We know you’re going to do great things!

Congratulations on your scholarship!

Author: Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

RSVP Today for SFS Annual General Meeting Nov. 11th !

Our Annual General Meeting will be held on November 11, 2019, at 6:00 – 7:30 pm at the Century Plaza Hotel in Vancouver. Our AGM is sponsored by Century Plaza Hotel and we are extremely grateful that they have offered the Burrard Ballroom for our event. There will be light refreshments provided by our generous sponsors – Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia and Sergio Cocchia , Co-Founders of the Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN).

We are very grateful for the Honourable Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, who is our guest speaker. The AGM is a great time to hear how the previous year unfolded for the Stigma-Free Society and to learn about plans for the upcoming year. Please let us know if you plan to attend as we would love to see you.

RSVP by Friday, November 8th, 2019

E-mail: [email protected] to RSVP Today!

Thank you to Wendy and Sergio who are also Co-Founders of the Pacific Autism Family Network (PAFN) where the Good Life Fitness Autism Hub is the first Stigma-Free Zone Charity in Canada!

Thank you for your amazing and ongoing support. 🙂

~The Stigma-Free Society Team

Stigma-Free Society Scholarship Opportunity!

The Stigma-Free Society is thrilled to be partnering with the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance to offer two deserving youth a scholarship of $2000 to be allocated to their educational pursuits.

Two B.C. students experiencing the effects of social stigmatization, either because of mental illness, LGBTQ+, homelessness, race, or addictions issues, will be selected to receive this scholarship for their Spring 2020 term.

To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must be B.C. residents and complete a Scholarship Application, and must have dealt with or be currently dealing with the effects of stigma in their lives.  Applicants also must be planning on attending school and be accepted at an accredited educational institution for the Spring 2020 term. Applications are due no later than November 20, 2019.

The Stigma-Free Society is committed to eradicating stigma through awareness and education, and we want to ensure that those who experience the negative impact of stigma know that they are not alone and have tangible opportunities to be supported.

For more information on how to apply and to obtain an application, please contact Andrea Paquette, President, SFS: [email protected]

We look forward to your application.

THANK YOU!

AutismBC is Working Towards a Stigma-Free Zone Designation

Over the past year, AutismBC has worked to create an internal cultural shift. With new leadership in place, the organization has committed to an in-depth process of identifying organizational gaps on matters of inclusion.

Not wanting to sit back, and assume, or defend that they are inclusive, staff and board members have dedicated themselves to fostering an impacting culture of learning. They aim to serve as an ally to marginalized individuals and community groups, and have planned concrete actions that will be seen, heard and felt by community members.

In March 2019, AutismBC reached out to the Stigma-Free Society to request support and we are so proud of their significant progress. We commend their commitment to fully value and respect the diverse identities, perspectives and experiences of their community members. AutismBC’s initial step was to create a safe space where their board members and staff are encouraged to ask honest and vulnerable questions about what inclusion means to them and the community at large.

Andrea Paquette, President of the Stigma-Free Society states:

“By doing this work as a team,  AutismBC has become better equipped to build inclusive spaces in the community that foster well-being, connection, belonging, and are free from stigma, discrimination and harassment. This organization’s commitment in establishing their Stigma-Free Zone has been extremely inspiring, motivating and authentic.”

Over the summer, AutismBC developed an annual Stigma-Free Zone Action Plan to outline their ongoing commitments to their community. Some of the action items include the following:

  • Identifying and adopting inclusive terms and language,
  • Supporting a Staff Champion to organize ongoing learning opportunities for staff and board members,
  • Developing inclusive recruitment strategies,
  • Branding the workspace with Stigma-Free Zone window decals and Stigma-Free ACTION posters.
  • Staff and board members have also used the online Stigma-Free Tool to help them better understand what being Stigma-Free truly means,
  • Finally, they have taken the Stigma-Free Pledge and have engaged in meaningful conversations on stigma and inclusion.

All of this progress has been done in just a few short months and the Stigma Free Society applauds AutismBC for they are well on their way to becoming a designated Stigma-Free Zone.

AutismBC has forged ahead after listening to feedback, concerns and criticisms with regards to their former Board President’s personal stance on a matter of inclusivity. While AutismBC did not support the statements and position of their former Board President, the organization was publicly criticized on social media for how they handled the issue.

Over the next few months, AutismBC and the Stigma-Free Society will continue to work on the organization’s actions items and becoming an officially designated Stigma-Free Zone. The Society’s Presenter, EJ Weston, has already presented their own personal story to Autism BC’s staff and board members, in regards to their mental health journey and experiences with identifying as non-binary. The presentation was a grand success and ignited a great amount of discussion, reflection and learnings within the organization. Subsequent to reviewing AutismBC’s Action Plan, we expect to award them with a designation plaque before the end of 2019.

Stay tuned for this exciting announcement in the coming months!

It can be difficult to move forward in the face of controversy and lack of knowledge, but it has been inspiring and extremely uplifting to see how committed AutismBC is to authentic change.