This past Wednesday was Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day sponsored by Bell Canada to work towards lessening the stigma of mental illness in our society. St. Clement’s School had arranged to live stream a talk by Clara Hughes; however, unfortunately there was a glitch that affected the streaming and left the Grades 7-12s waiting in Powell Hall. After a moment of uncertainty, something powerful happened.
Earlier in the morning, as our girls had entered the School, our The Word’s Out student committee had asked Clementines to share topics around mental health about which they wished to talk. Responses were thoughtful and provocative, and included topics such as anxiety, stress, friendships, ‘my depression’, OCD, positivity, positive environments and more.
When we found ourselves sitting in Powell Hall and realised that the streaming might not work, our Manager of LINCWell Programs and our two student LINCWell leaders rose to the occasion.
What followed was an organic, authentic and thoughtful discussion amongst students from Grades 7-12 about mental health and why the girls had chosen the topics they wanted to talk about. Our students shared their own experiences in dealing with stigma, provided suggestions on how to assist and support one another, listened to staff share their own experiences and thoughts, and encouraged and applauded everyone who spoke.
Not too long ago I spoke about the importance of ensuring our girls have and use their voices to effect change; on Wednesday I marvelled at our students’ comfort and mutual support as they spoke about mental health.
As I said to the girls at the end of their time together that afternoon, I was overwhelmed with pride at how seamlessly they had adjusted when plans had changed and, in fact, how they provided an even more powerful opportunity to talk.
Our Clementines wanted to talk about mental health, and they did- eloquently, thoughtfully, courageously and supportively.