CHEK Upside: Non-profit helping youth, teens struggling with mental health

CHEK Upside: Non-profit helping youth, teens struggling with mental health
WatchThe Stigma-Free Society is battling mental illness across B.C. and helping kids and teens dealing with the stress of COVID-19.

The Stigma-Free Society is working to help children and teens affected by COVID-19.

Normally the Vancouver based non-profit has its presenters go out into schools and talk about the stigma surrounding mental health, but with a global pandemic that’s not possible.

“We’re reinventing ourselves,” says Stigma-Free Society president Andrea Paquette. Paquette was the driving force behind starting the society back in 2010. Her team has been working tirelessly to still deliver some sort of guidance online.

“We still deliver programs, educational programs about mental health for use in schools and we also talk about the importance of reaching out for help and that we should be understanding and accepting of each other,” says Paquette on a Skype call from her Vancouver office.

Mental health is a cause that the group’s community development manager Lindsay Goulet knows well. Her son Owen was diagnosed with a mental illness at age 10. Since his diagnosis, she’s been at the forefront of fighting the cause here on Vancouver Island.

“My true passion is the mental health advocacy and Stigma-Free is all about going to schools and educating. At this point, we can’t go into schools and educate, so this is just another way that we can get more information out to more people and educate as much as possible,” says Goulet in her Langford backyard.

Since the pandemic began, the society has been hosting online discussions with mental health experts, and on Wednesday it will host it’s first Facebook live fundraiser. It’s a small way to gain back some of the lost donations due to the pandemic.

“I’m really excited to see a lot of people, a lot of supporters online,” says Paquette.

“So this online fundraiser that we have is just really meant to have that big impact and a day-long fundraiser we can really get some money for the next few months and just kinda tide us over until COVID passes,” adds Lindsay.

To donate or watch tomorrow’s Facebook stream, head to

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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