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The Stigma-Free Society Supports You this Coming Fall and Always

Summer is ending and Fall is definitely in the air and our team at the Stigma-Free Society is feeling a little humbled, nostalgic and thankful.

We are all living through a global pandemic and no one knows what is to come next, but for now, we want to take a moment to wish all of the students heading back to school the best of luck in the coming year. What lies ahead is unknown, but we can take care of ourselves and one another through kindness, support and compassion.

Over the past few months, we’ve been busy adding content to our Covid-19 Youth Mental Wellness Toolkit and we are creating NEW Student Toolkits this Fall for schools. It’s an exciting time for us and we couldn’t have done it without your incredible support – online and financially. We are not a large Charity, but we have a very committed and supportive Stigma-Free community and for this we are very thankful.

We have been constantly adding content to our COVID-19 Toolkit over this past summer, so be sure to check out our new Features section on the website for both Youth (Grades 4-6) and Teens (Grades 7-12). You’ll also find a whole bunch of Tips for Managing Mental Health – something we ALL need to be doing, especially when we are feeling stressed, confused or anxious.

We’ve also received some valuable feedback on our Covid-19 Comic called Ben’s Story, so we’re working on adding additional comic books for our youth readers to enjoy. These educational pieces will illustrate topics such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, diverse-ability and a variety of stigmas.

We cannot wait for you to read all of them! They’re going to be educational, but also unique and fun!

We have many more updates for you, but mostly, we really want to say that we are grateful to you all, and we are honoured to hold this mental wellness space with you. We wish you all health, happiness and joy as you start this new school year.

We’ll be here in a different capacity this year without our in-person mental health presentations, but we’ll be here continuing to educate and raising awareness around mental health and a variety of other stigmas in an online capacity with new tools and resources.

We’re extremely excited for the upcoming year and look forward to working with you all.

Again, we are here for you and we support you at the Stigma-Free Society.

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

5 Ways to Boost your Mental Health in 35 Minutes or Less

Let’s face it – some days you just feel crummy.

Whether you had a terrible sleep, you’re stressed out or you just woke up in a negative mood – bad moods and negative mental health days happen.

The good news?

There are quite a few ways you can positively impact your mood and put yourself in a better, more positive state of mental health.

Even better? You can bump your mental health into a more positive space in a short amount of time.

TRY THIS!

Move your body. You don’t need to move your body for a prolonged period of time – even just a 5-minute energy boost can bump your mental health.Set a timer for 5-minutes. Press start. Complete 20 high knees, 20 squats and 20 jumping jacks on repeat until your 5-minute timer indicates your time is up. Then, grab some water, give yourself a high five and let the endorphins work
their magic.
= 5 mins

Drink some water. Hydration is extremely important on days when you’re feeling sluggish or blue. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, irritability, lightheadedness and inability to focus. Drinking 1L of water over the course of 30 minutes will help combat dehydration and the negative effects it has on your mental health.
= 5 mins to drink 1L

Pro-tip: Try to drink 3-4L of water per day to stay on top of your hydration!

Get outside into the sun. Taking yourself outside and into the sun has many mental health benefits including reducing stress and improving cognitive function. The sun also helps anchor your body’s internal clock, regulating healthy appetite, sleep and your
metabolism – all key factors in maintaining a positive state of mental health.
= 10 mins

Eat a nutritious meal. Put the sugar away and grab yourself a healthy snack because sugar negatively impacts brain health and healthy food positively impacts brain health! Try a salad full of vibrant vegetables with some protein (e.g. chicken, tofu or fish) and a sugar-free salad dressing. Then, let the vitamins and nutrients work their magic on your mental health.
= 10 mins

Call someone you love and trust. Sometimes all we need is a little connection with someone who makes us laugh and feel good. Reach out to a friend or family member and talk about the fun you’ve had in the past. Reminiscing about good times filled with fun and joy can significantly boost your mood.
= 5 mins

TOTAL TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOU?

35 mins!

…and some of these things you can do together like sitting outside in the sun while talking to your loved one.

Bad moods or negative mental health days happen, but there is a lot you can do to try to boost yourself into a more positive mindset.

We have a Mental Health Checklist that you can print off and go through on days when your mental health is not as positive as you’d like it to be on our COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit.

Finally, for more ideas on how to manage your mental health, please CLICK HERE and check out our 10 Tips for Managing Your Mental Health.

Thank you for reading!

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

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.

For more information on how to apply and obtain an application, please email: [email protected].

Applications are due no later than Oct 15, 2020. The $2000 is allocated to the Spring Term only of 2021.

We look forward to receiving your application!

Thank you for reading and please share widely.

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

The Stigma-Free Society is Growing, Expanding & Looking for Feedback!

What a ride it’s been since March 2020 with COVID-19 and all the things that come along with living through a pandemic!

Stigma free online toolkitBefore COVID-19, much of the work of the Stigma-Free Society was conducted through in-person presentations at schools and organizations where we would educate youth and teens about mental health awareness, the elimination of stigmas and how to live a stigma-free life. As COVID-19 became more rampant and with the closure of schools and an unknown future, our charity needed to pivot and ensure we were able to continue to promote our important messages.

Our team quickly rallied and with the support of our Board of Directors, we were able to create our COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit in a matter of 15 days. The Youth Toolkit has sections for both youth (grades 4-6), teens (grade 7-12) and based on feedback from our community, sections were added for parents and educators.

While less-restrictive COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, our team continues to work hard at adding content to this Toolkit on a weekly basis.

We’ve also realized over the past few months that there are a number of other areas that need our attention and support….and here is where we need you!

We would truly appreciate your feedback on the current Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit so we can continue to add content, education and ensure we are capturing the needs of our community.

In addition to the COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit, we are working on the following online resources:

Stigma-Free Youth Mental Wellness Toolkit

This toolkit will be similar in structure to our COVID-19 Toolkit, but will have more general information on mental health, mental illness, activities to stave off boredom and conversation cards to help adults and youth/teens keep communication open – always, not only during a pandemic. Basically, this is a revamp of the COVID-19 Toolkit to ensure that the content is still available to the public once we get through this pandemic and will be especially useful for Educators wanting to teach on the topic of mental health.

Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit

This particular Toolkit is being created for people living in rural, farming and countryside communities. We have been advised that life in a rural community has a number of challenges and information and education to individuals living in these communities is desired and needed. We are also working with professional peer support trainers, and hope to bring this component into fruition for these communities.

ALL of the above new resources require plenty of content creation, organization and research. We are asking for feedback, suggestions and input on all of the above resources, including the already launched Stigma-Free COVID-19 Youth Wellness Toolkit.

  • Have ideas? We want to hear them.
  • Have suggestions? Great! Pass ‘em over.
  • Are we missing something? Let us know!
  • Know someone who is an awesome writer and wants to volunteer? Amazing! Send them our way.
  • Is there an area we’re missing? We want to know about it.

Your feedback is incredibly important to us and we 100% are open to hear it. Please send any and all feedback, suggestions and/or ideas our way. You can email your feedback to [email protected] and we will be in touch very soon!

Thank you for your interest and support.

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

10 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health on a Rainy Day

A lot of people love a good rainy day. It’s a great excuse to hunker down under your blankets and stay inside for the day. However, for some, rainy days can be really difficult, particularly if they’re battling a mental illness like depression or anxiety.

The good news? There are ways for you to boost your mental health on these dark and dreary days! Below are 10 ways that you can boost your mood while the sky remains grey and the rain continues to fall.

      • Get some rest. Rainy days are the perfect day for you to rest and perhaps catch up on some sleep that your body and mind may desperately need. Resting and napping are not for the “lazy”, they’re for the people who need to take a break and are willing to take care of their mind and body through sleep and restorative practices.
      • Curb your desire to bring on the junk food. Eating well is an important way to help maintain and boost your mental health for the day. Sugary snacks don’t fuel your brain. Your brain needs vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates. Put the chips and chocolate away and grab an apple and some almonds to snack on.
      • Drink your water. Similar to #2, it’s also important to put away the sugary drinks and fill up your water bottle to hydrate yourself properly throughout the day. Shoot for at least 3L of water per day, but of course, just try your best.
      • Get outside. Yes, it’s rainy. Yes, the sun isn’t out. But yes, you can still get outside for a nice 30-minute walk. Grab your umbrella and get your body moving. Rain jackets are made for this type of activity, so get up and get walking.
      • Limit your screen time. While it might be tempting to snuggle under your blankets and catch up on all things Facebook or binge-watch a new show, it’s best if you limit your screen time. Best to recommend no more than 2 hours per day.In fact, researchers in an article by Twenge & Campbell, 2018 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6214874/) found the well-being was negatively impacted after 1 hour of screen time. Anything over 1 hour resulted in progressive feelings of negative well-being. We’re being a little more lenient with our recommendation of no more than 2 hours per day because if you’re going to watch a movie, you’re going to need more than an hour!
      • Phone a friend. Rainy days are a great chance to reach out to friends or family you haven’t had time to speak with in awhile. Grab your phone and reach out to connect! The connection, laughter and joy of reconnecting will help boost your mental health for the day. There are a lot of at-home workouts you can do. On top of getting outside and going for a walk, complete a short, metabolic workout. This type of workout is known for releasing endorphins and serotonin – both chemicals knows to be mood enhancers. Not sure what to do? CLICK HERE for a great at-home, no equipment workout.
      • Write in a gratitude journal. Sometimes it’s difficult to pull yourself out of feeling blue, but gratitude often helps. Sit down with a pen and paper and write 20 things you are grateful for. Once you’ve listed your gratitude, read the list at least twice (three times is even better) and reflect on each item on your list.
      • Get yourself a Sun Lamp! Vitamin D is important in helping boost your mood. If you’re feeling particularly blue, tired, stressed one day and the sun is hiding behind grey clouds, get yourself in front of a Vitamin D lamp. Try to also make sure you’re getting Vitamin D into your body through food – good sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish like mackerel, tuna and salmon, vitamin-D fortified foods like orange juice or dairy, cheese and egg yolk.
      • Be productive. While the desire may be to sleep the day away (and that’s okay sometimes), why not use the day to cross off something you’ve been meaning to do? Organize your closet, read a book you’ve been meaning to read, plan your garden for the spring/summer. Whatever you’ve had on your to-do list – get it done! It feels great to cross off those things you’ve been putting off! So go one – tackle one thing on your to-do list and reap the mood-boosting reward.

There are so many ways to take care of your mental health on rainy days! Try to embrace the grey and rain and take care of yourself on days you know you tend to go a little darker or days when you feel more anxious. Your mental health is in your hands – try your best to help ensure you’re as healthy as you can be.

Author, Lindsay Goulet, Community Development Manager, SFS

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

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

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