Stigma-Free Society supports those with mental health challenges


In any given year, one in five Canadians will suffer from a mental health illness.

Which is why talking about mental health struggles, and removing any stigma about the challenges involved is so important.

That’s the goal of the Stigma-Free Society.

Robyn Thomas is the Community Development Manager for the non-profit organization, which offers education and support for those facing mental health challenges.

Thomas’s mental health illness began in childhood and worsened with the increased pressures of teen and young adulthood.

At age 26 she was hospitalized, after a mental health crisis.

During her recovery she learned about the Stigma-Free Society, and that they were looking for people willing to share their story.

“At first I thought ‘No way. I’m a very private person’ ” recalled Thomas. “I don’t want to put myself out there in that way.”

But as the year of recovery went on, and Thomas became mentally stable and strong, she searched her soul and decided opening up about her journey might help others through theirs.

“So many people, young people, are going through these same things that I went through… so it was really humbling, and really powerful [to step in front of others and tell her story],” says Thomas.

And her story is resonating with the students she’s speaking to at Edward Milne Community School [EMCS.]

“She’s echoing a lot of the concerns that I hear from students about anxiety,” says teacher Maria Hogan. “It’s often one of the topics they most want to talk about ? that and finances. So mental health and finances.”

Grade 12 EMCS student Karyl Musfelt-Trivino agreed. “I thought it was really powerful and eye-opening.”

“I think if I went through that, I’d find it really challenging to talk to a bunch of people I don’t know, who don’t know my life story, and just tell them everything that’s happened and all the struggles that [I’ve] been through,” said Musfelt-Trivino.

“That seems really hard, and I look up to her for doing that.”

Student Paiton Cameron said that “Rather than just showing statistics and numbers, I feel like her sharing her story and what she’s gone through, and the multiple things that she’s gone through, it’s very powerful.”

The Stigma-Free Society offers talks to schools and the community and offers support groups for all ages.

Click here to learn more about the non-profit organization.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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