When Gwyneth finally gathered the courage to tell a friend she suffered from anxiety, the response she got was completely unexpected. “She asked me to show her my scars,” said Gwyneth. When she realized that her peer automatically associated mental illness with self-harm, Gwyneth knew that she needed to do something to educate others about mental health. “There’s so much stigma because people just don’t understand.”
When Gwyneth joined the Jack Chapter at Branksome Hall last year, she was the youngest member. But she didn’t let that intimidate her. A month later, she became a chapter executive. This year, she’s going to be president.
Gwyneth continued to make connections at the Toronto Independent Schools Local Jack Summit, which she planned with her fellow Branksome Hall chapter members (along with some guidance from their Jack.org Chapter Coordinator, Ocean). In total, 14 private schools from across the Greater Toronto Area came together to learn about mental health, and how to start conversations at their school.
Being involved with Jack.org has helped grow Gwyneth’s confidence in herself. It showed her that goals are achievable even when they seem impossible. This confidence has motivated her to get involved as an advocate for youth mental health in a number of other ways: she’s a role model for Wear Your Label (check out her feature here), she’s meeting with Justin Trudeau’s parliamentary secretary to talk about mental health, she has a meeting with CAMH coming up, and she is working with Girls20, an international summit for female empowerment, to find intersectionality with the mental health space.
As if that wasn’t enough, Gwytneth recently volunteered at the Jack Ride Thank-a-thon, where she had the opportunity to thank the people supporting her. “It was really amazing to have an honest conversation with donors about how much their donation meant to me,” Gwyneth says. “I wanted them to know that their donation isn’t going unnoticed. Their donation matters to me”.