Jack Project helps raise mental health awareness

Karla Karcioglu, Contributor Ω

Students visit a booth in Old Main to learn more about the Jack Project and mental illness. - PHOTO BY KARLA KARCIOGLU

Students visit a booth in Old Main to learn more about the Jack Project and mental illness. – PHOTO BY KARLA KARCIOGLU

The Jack Project came to TRU Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5 to raise awareness of mental illness, thanks to the efforts of TRU Wellness and four TRU students with a personal interest in mental health.

The project was created in 2010 after 18-year-old Jack Windeler, a first-year student at Queen’s University, committed suicide. His parents started the project to create understanding about the stressful life transitions faced by young adults.

“College can be super stressful, some people can’t handle [it],” said Danica Ryan, a first-year human services student who helped organize and run the event.

She said they wanted to do this project now because it is exam period, a demanding time for students.

“Depression is so unnoticed,” Ryan said.

Everyone in his or her lifetime will be affected, so it is important for everyone, she said.

The Jack Project website states 75 per cent of mental disorders develop by age 24 and 3.2 million young people ages 12 to 19 are at risk for developing depression.

“There is still a lot of stigma around mental illness,” said Chelsea Corsi, wellness coordinator.

We’re trying to reduce stigma, raise awareness and give information to students, Corsi said, adding she wants students to realize they aren’t alone.

“It’s definitely something important,” said Stacey Rowat, a first-year Bachelor of science student. She said TRU is doing a really good job providing booths and opportunities to learn about important issues like these.

Amy Detaeye, a first-year human services student, said most students were interested in the stress reduction techniques and that students enjoyed making stress balls, an activity available to students who stopped by the booth.

“It’s good to hear they’re taking that [from this],” said Detaeye, who also helped organize and run the event.

The Jack Project, which is in partnership with Kids Help Phone and Queen’s University, has included many workshops, presentations and events aimed to raise awareness including Unleash the Noise, Canada’s first Student Mental Health Innovation Summit, which was held March 15 and 16 in Ontario.