Why You Should Join the National Youth Advisory Committee & its Student-Friendly Mental Health Revolution
While there has been progress in reducing stigma against mental health, stigma is still prevalent. A 2008 Globe and Mail survey of Canadian adults found that:
- A quarter of Canadians are afraid to be near an individual with a serious mental illness.
- Almost one half of Canadians believe that mental illness was an excuse for an individual’s unorthodox behavior.
This lack of awareness is dangerous, considering one in five Canadians will develop mental illness. Chances are likely that we are friends, co-workers or family members with someone who has mental illness.
Therefore, mental health advocacy is crucial. Mental health advocacy can eliminate the stigma, by increasing awareness and promoting discussion of mental wellness, illness and recovery.
Regardless of how busy you are with school, family, work and other priorities, you can be at the forefront of the mental health revolution. Many groups and organizations are working to increase awareness and educate the public on mental health. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s National Youth Advisory Committee (NYAC) is a great option for those who want to create change in the mental health landscape. So what makes the NYAC stand out?
- As explained in Olivia Heffernan’s post on NYAC, three tiers of membership exist. Different tiers of membership have varying levels of time commitment and contribution. Those with more time can be more involved, while those with less time can still assist in NYAC’s projects. When necessary, you can change your membership tier and alter your level of commitment. For example, I am a support team member, a position where I attend meetings, contribute to projects, and assist where I want to and when I am able to. This role usually works with my busy schedule. During my final exams, I switched to a lower tier, which allowed me to focus on my studies. When the academic year was over, I returned to my support team member role, and was easily integrated into our workflow. This flexibility removes the barrier that a mandatory level of involvement could create.
- Most of the work done with NYAC can occur from home. With information relayed through Facebook and monthly teleconferences, youth from all over Canada can easily join and make a difference. You don’t have to travel anywhere, yet you can make an impact and work with those who are provinces and territories away! This online commitment is ideal for those who want to become involved, but cannot make a physical commitment.
- The amazing, passionate youth who are a part of NYAC! I have made many new friends, who share the same passion and vision for mental health. In addition to organizing awareness campaigns, we have written blog posts together. Our latest one is a mental health survival guide for high school students. The collaborative work that NYAC offers is fun, engaging, and helps others.
While time and distance can bar youth from getting involved with various mental health organizations, NYAC works around these problems. Check out NYAC and join the mental health revolution today!