Meet our Stigma-Free Scholarship Winner Megan!

“I really had to grieve my changed sense of identity when I was diagnosed, at first, because I took it hard.”

These were Megan’s thoughts as she remembered the moment she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder two years ago. Megan struggled with a lot of self-stigma and biases that had come from what she had seen in the media. It was a huge transitional moment.

We, at the Stigma-Free Society are so proud of Megan for all she has overcome and we are extremely excited to announce her as one of our scholarship winners for post-secondary education offered in partnership with the Otsuka Lundbeck Alliance!

Megan plans to put her scholarship money towards her education as she is currently enrolled in the Post-Degree Diploma in Accounting at Camosun College. She aspires to become a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA).

Throughout her undergraduate years, Megan excelled in her Math degree and was invited to fly across the country to present her research where she earned many accolades and was told her presentation was a favorite of the day.

We feel that this is an incredible achievement, particularly because this was during the time of Megan’s mental illness diagnosis.

About two years ago, Megan was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type I and faced a lot of stigma. Not only was Megan struggling with her own transition, but she realized that she was being treated differently by her community and even her close friends. This caused her to feel isolated during her undergraduate education.

She was able to find acceptance and compassion through her support group – one that she was recently able to reconnect with due to transitioning online this year.

Megan’s lived experience with bipolar has taught her to extend more acceptance, compassion, and kindness to others.

A big source of inspiration for Megan is her mother. She states that her mother is a life-long learner – something that has been passed onto her. In addition, her mother has always been encouraging and has been a huge source of support for her.

Given all that she has experienced, what advice would Megan give to her younger self and to others?

“Put yourself out there more”.

By putting herself out there, Megan has had so many opportunities that were previously stifled by negative self-talk. Megan’s message to others is: Be kind and do not judge others. We do not know what the people around us may be experiencing and the impact our words may have on them.

Congratulations on your scholarship and good luck Megan!

Author, Raman Dhaliwal, Stigma-Free Intern, Adler University

 

Meet our Scholarship Winner – Trisha Cull

 

We are extremely proud to introduce to you Trisha Cull, winner of the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance and Stigma-Free Society Scholarship. Registered in the Inter-professional Mental Health & Addictions (IMHA) post-graduate program at Camosun College, Trisha will use this money to help pay for her tuition and books, something she wasn’t sure how she was going to pay for prior to being awarded this scholarship.

These scholarships are given to inspirational individuals who are passionate about eliminating stigma and who strive to make a positive change in the field of mental health.

Trisha’s Story:

Trisha had her first depressive episode when she was 16-years and diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder twenty years later. For years, she felt inadequate and weak for not being able to overcome her mental illness on her own and lived with a significant amount of stigma – some self-imposed and the rest from an abusive partner. Trisha also suffered from bulimia, self-medicated with alcohol and drugs, and struggled with low self-esteem much of her life.

Hope, strength and courage gradually replaced the stigma she experienced, lived and eventually overcame. She is grateful for both her failures and victories along the way as they have given her insight into what so many others experience and have helped shape the person she has become. Trisha no longer settles for abusive partners and recognizes her own strength and bravery.

At 46 years old, Trisha has published a memoir that details her journey with mental illness. She is already making a significant difference in the field of mental health and will continue to do so throughout her education and life.

Trisha aspires to work with youth, specifically, she is working towards becoming a mental health support worker for youth struggling with eating disorders. Trisha would also like to pursue an MA in counselling in the near future.

A message from Trisha:

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

“If you are struggling, reach out and get help. It takes incredible strength to seek help, you have to be very brave to do that, especially in a society where there is so much stigma surrounding mental health and substance use. It is okay to ask for help. You are not alone.”

Congratulations on your scholarship, Trisha! We are excited to see the amazing work you are going to do in the field of mental health and to help reduce stigma. We are beyond proud to announce you as one of our scholarship winners. Good luck to you in school and your future endeavors!

Thank you to the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for making these scholarships possible.

Author, Cosette Leblanc, Stigma-Free Intern, Adler University

Our School Presentations Have Gone VIRTUAL

What a year 2020 has been!

As with most everything and everyone, the Stigma-Free Society continues to adapt to rules and regulations dictated by this incredible global pandemic we are living through. We’d like to offer our sincerest gratitude to everyone in the Stigma-Free community who continue to support us, get involved and expand our message through our online Toolkits, lesson plans and now our Virtual Stigma-Free School Presentations!

While we didn’t ever see our education programs having to go virtual, this is a reality and is, in fact, one that we are excited to launch and grow!

Before Covid-19 became a global pandemic, our Stigma-Free Zone School Program involved an hour-long, in-person presentation to elementary, middle and high schools. Topics varied depending on the age-group but the overall goal was to bring awareness, education and acceptance of various stigmas to students, oftentimes focusing on mental health. Our School Program has been running for 10+ years, reaching 50,000+ students across British Columbia, Canada.

We have always received extremely positive feedback from our in-person school presentations, so when Covid-19 became our reality, our team worked to develop a new way to continue to provide awareness and education to students through a virtual platform.

The most incredible thing? We truly believe that our new Virtual School Presentation Program will open doors to getting information and education to more schools and therefore – more students.

How Does it Work?

In our Virtual Stigma-Free School Program, educators and school counsellors will either receive 10+ professional documentary style short video clips (each 3-10 minutes in length) or one lengthier 50-minute professional documentary, depending on what topic(s) the school/educator/counsellor decides to focus on.

These videos encompass mental health topics and personal stories, accompanied by a Step-by-Step Guide for Educators with questions and activities for students.

After the videos are shown, one of our Stigma-Free Society Presenters joins the conversation with students via Microsoft Teams or Zoom (or whatever virtual platform your school uses) to provide an additional 10-15 minute presentation on their personal story. Subsequent to sharing their story, our presenter then provides an interactive Q&A session on the documentary and/or their personal journey.

For more information on our Stigma-Free Virtual Presenters, please CLICK HERE and scroll down to see all our presenters listed along with their strengths and topics of expertise.

In Summary, the Virtual Stigma-Free School Program includes: 

  • Pre-Lesson Plans that educators or school counsellors can use before the day of the Interactive Q&A session with Stigma-Free Society Presenters, including additional helpful resources and activities.
  • A Step-by-Step Guide for Educators to help guide students through the professional documentary style videos. This document includes“Guiding Questions” to help the educator/counsellor on the day that the interactive Q&A takes place.
  • The Documentary Style Video(s) decided on by the school/educator/counsellor in an easy-to-find format to help educate your students about stigma and mental health.
  • A Virtual Interactive Q&A with one of our Stigma-Free Virtual Presenters.
  • Follow-Up Stigma-Free Activities document, sent after your Presentation to help educators/counsellors continue the conversation on stigma and mental health throughout the year.

We hope that you’re as excited about this incredible opportunity as we are! If you think your school might like to participate or if you’re a parent that wants to get your school involved, please email us at [email protected] for more information.

Parents, educators, counsellors – let’s make sure our kids are educated on stigma, mental health and how to be kind, supportive individuals for life – not only as a maneuver through this global pandemic. What your child learns in our Virtual Stigma-Free School Presentation can be used throughout their entire life – let’s keep education on mental health at the forefront of our minds for years to come – these presentations could be the simple start to valuable life-long education.

Let’s get to it!

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

Position Filled – Apply for the Stigma-Free Society Grant Writer Position today!

Please apply for the Stigma-Free Society Grant Writer position today! We are looking for a passionate, profound and persuasive writer! If you are passionate about mental health and also have experience with writing non-profit fundraising grants with meaningful success then please contact us!

The Stigma-Free Society is looking to hire a Grant Writer for on contract to write non-profit donor grant proposals for the Stigma-Free Society. The Grant Writer will write coherent, organized and compelling proposals. You will apply your knowledge of fundraising methods and plans to reach income goals alongside Andrea Paquette, President of the Charity. You will collaborate with team members in the organization to assist with your fundraising proposals.

To ensure success, you will be required to write in a compelling and strategic manner, have proficient knowledge of Charity fundraising methods and be committed to the Stigma-Free Society’s mission. Preferred applicants are deadline-driven team players with outstanding multitasking abilities and have a proven history of fundraising success for non-profits.

Grant Writer Responsibilities:

  • Display adherence to organization’s mission.
  • Maintain proficient knowledge of organization’s history and programs.
  • Identify grant funding opportunities.
  • Write, submit and manage grant proposals alongside President.
  • Collaborating with President of SFS and Full-Time Grant Writer.
  • Provide all records as final to the President, SFS.

Grant Writer Requirements:

  • 2+ years grant writing experience for charities.
  • Proficient with measuring and proof of reaching income goals.
  • Proficient with MS Office Word and Excel.
  • Excellent knowledge of fundraising information sources.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Strong people skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to meet strict deadlines.

E-mail:

[email protected]  

Position is Filled. No phone calls please.

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 a $2000 scholarship to be allocated toward their educational pursuits.

This is the third 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 2021 Semester.

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.

Applications are now closed.

Thank you.

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

 

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

We Reached our $20k Goal! THANK YOU!

A Warm and Grateful Message from the Stigma-Free Society Team…

We had an INCREDIBLE week last week with our first ever online fundraiser “”Helping Stigma-Free Society During COVID-19”. Through the generous support of the beautiful community around us, we reached our goal of $20,000 and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who donated and who participated in our event.

Throughout the day we had interviews and information sessions about stigma, mental health, how COVID-19 is affecting us and, of course, information on our online COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit.

Donations came in throughout the day and with every donation our confidence grew. Not only did our confidence grow in being able to achieve our financial goal we had set for ourselves, but also in the work that we do as a charity. With every donation, people were not only supporting us financially, they were also letting us know that they appreciate and believe in the work we do, encouraging us to continue to grow and expand.

Our work is important and will continue during these unprecedented times – this message was heard loud and clear from all who supported, and continue to support us.

What are we going to do with the donations? Great question. Below are just a few ways we’ll be allocating the donations within our charity:

  • Convert the Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit into a General Wellness Toolkit;
  • Add new sections to our General Wellness Toolkit, including  “Defeating Racism during COVID-19” and “How to Help a Friend with Mental Health Issues”;
  • Create and develop new resources such as an Online Distress quiz and a comprehensive Guide for Parents on helping their child struggling with mental health;
  • Sustaining the significant cost of the Youth Toolkit program;
  • Write, create and develop new initiatives such a Wellbeing Toolkits for various other demographics that will reach an even larger audience and will help us branch out from our focus on youth;
  • And SO MUCH MORE.

Once again, thank you to those who took time out of their busy schedules to be a part of our online fundraiser. Thank you to those who supported us with messages, comments and emails throughout the day. And THANK YOU to the many, many people who donated before, during and after the fundraiser to Stigma-Free Society.

A special thank you to those who donated on behalf of Jaime Traynor. Our deepest love, gratitude and appreciation to you and your loved ones. We will honour Jaime’s memory with our good work and promise to continue to help educate and raise awareness on various stigmas, with a focus on mental health. Jaime – we miss you and love you.

THANK YOU STIGMA-FREE COMMUNITY!

We are beyond grateful.

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

Stigma-Free COVID-19 Online Full-Day Fundraiser – We Need Your Help!

At the Stigma-Free Society we are extremely proud of the work we have been doing to educate and raise awareness about various stigmas, with a focus on mental health in schools, businesses and organizations. When COVID-19 hit, the way we educate and help students and individuals in the community had to change. We responded urgently and are aiming to remain adaptable to change the way we work, and we did so urgently by tirelessly designing, developing, and releasing our Stigma-Free Youth Wellness Toolkit for youth (grades 4-6) and teens (grades 7-12).

The Toolkit was designed for youth and teens’ learnings about mental wellness, and it has become an invaluable resource for parents, educators and counsellors to help them navigate conversations about COVID-19, mental health and provide resources and ideas to keep children and students engaged in a positive way.

Unfortunately, along with COVID-19 came quite a bit of funding barriers and significant losses to our Charity and we need your help.

We have huge plans in place to continue to support our Stigma-Free community in new and unique ways that include creating an interactive guide for parents navigating the mental health system, designing a Rural Mental Wellness Tookit and a Mental Health Toolkit for Indigenous communities.

On June 24, 2020 we are having a day-long Online Marathon Fundraising event on Facebook LIVE!

Please join us throughout the day and donate what you can. We need your support now more than ever.

We are seeking 1000 people to give $20, or whatever they wish on, or before June 24th, 2020!

To donate to our charity on and before, June 24th, donate through this LINK.

We also have guest celebrity 4-Time Olympian Silken Lauman, Author of Unsinkable and Founder of Unsinkable Stories!

We would love your support on June 24th and cannot wait for you to watch the incredible interviews we will be hosting. You will also receive loads of information and support throughout each segment on helping your children and/or students during, not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also throughout their lives.

Please join us and support our charity on June 24th! It’s going to be an amazing day filled with information, interviews and fun.

The Full Line-Up for the day can be found on the Stigma-Free Society’s Facebook Event Page.

Remember, you don’t have to attend the whole day, but do drop by for whatever 30 min. segment interests you, or come over and post your hello!

Thank you so much for your continued support!

 

Written by, Lindsay Goulet, CDM, Stigma-Free Society

A Very Sad Loss of our Stigma-Free Friend & Colleague, Jaime Traynor

It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of the loss of a friend and Stigma-Free Society colleague, Jaime Traynor. On behalf of the Stigma-Free Society, and its Board of Directors, we offer our support and condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.

Jaime facilitated our Society’s Women’s Peer Support Group for nearly 3 years and attended the group every week over a 5 year period. She was a true champion for those experiencing mental illness. Jaime was so wonderful and very dedicated to the cause of selflessly helping others. She was a ray of sunshine I knew I had to hire immediately to lead our peer support group. She was loved by the group’s members and I am so grateful for her contribution to the Stigma-Free Society, which will never be forgotten.

Here is a link to Jaime’s bio on our website for those of you who did not know her personally: https://stigmafreesociety.com/sfs-team/

While we experience our own loss, we share in the loss experienced by her family and friends. We are a community, and in a community, we need to come together when we face pain. In honour of Jaime’s great contribution, there will not be any pause in our support offerings and we, in fact, encourage more people to attend online with the group, with so many of us requiring mental health support during this time.

You may want to reach out immediately for support if you need someone to talk to. As part of our Stigma Free response to this tragedy, we want to ensure that you know where you can reach out for help.

On Vancouver Island, please know that you can call or text the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1 (888) 494-3888 or you can text/chat at: https://www.vicrisis.ca/. They have been made aware of our recent loss and the significance of losing a peer leader. There is also a crisis line in Vancouver if people need to reach out and talk to someone there for support at: https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/

Please remember that you are not alone. You are part of our community, and we are here to support you.

Author, Andrea Paquette, President and Co-Founder, Stigma-Free Society

Temporary Contract – Non-Profit Grant Writer – Rate Negotiable

Temporary Contract – Non-Profit Grant Writer – Rate Negotiable

Start Date: As Soon as Possible

The Stigma-Free Society is looking to hire a temporary Grant Writer for a brief contract to write grant proposals for our organization. It is an exciting time for our Charity and we would love for you to become a part of it. Do you support youth mental wellness and have a heart full of energy to help us reach as many youth as possible with our meaningful programming?

We just launched the new https://stigmafreetoolkit.com and your role will be to help grow and sustain our current and new programming goals.

We need someone who will write coherent, organized and compelling proposals to NEW funders. We need you to apply your professional insight, knowledge of fundraising methods and plans to reach income goals alongside the President of the Charity- That’s me, Andrea Paquette. I desire a Grant Writer to be a part of the SFS team, and be willing to collaborate with the rest of our team members in the organization. We don’t have it all figured it out, and would also love to learn from your expertise too.

We need you to write in a strategic manner, have proficient knowledge of Charity fundraising methods and be committed to the Stigma-Free Society’s mission. Check out more about us here: https://stigmafreesociety.com/stigma-free-society  Preferred applicants are deadline-driven team players with outstanding multitasking abilities as we have a lot happening right now!

Grant Writer Responsibilities:

  • Display adherence to organization’s mission.
  • Maintain proficient knowledge of organization’s history and programs.
  • Identify grant funding opportunities.
  • Write, submit and manage grant proposals alongside President.
  • Collaborating with President of SFS and Full-Time Grant Writer.
  • Provide all records as final to the President, SFS.

Grant Writer Requirements:

  • 2+ years grant writing experience for charities.
  • Proficient with measuring and proof of reaching income goals.
  • Proficient with MS Office Word and Excel.
  • Excellent knowledge of fundraising information sources.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Strong people skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Ability to meet strict deadlines.

Want to be a meaningful part of the SFS Team?

Submit Your Resume and Cover letter by May 15, 2020 to Andrea Paquette, President, Stigma-Free Society.

E-mail: [email protected]  

(Contact Andrea for questions about the position.)

If you do not meet all of the qualifications, but feel you would still ‘knock it out of the park’ then do contact me to discuss your application! 🙂  Best of Luck!

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