Amber Scott’s struggles with mental health have inspired her to help her peers.
The second-year social service worker student has started a Jack.org chapter at Georgian College’s Orillia campus.
Jack.org, which began as The Jack Project in 2010, was launched by Sandra Hanington and Eric Windeler after their son, Jack, died by suicide while attending Queen’s University in Kingston.
“The whole idea is to bring mental health initiatives to Georgian,” said Scott. “I had mental health challenges that started in elementary school and there weren’t many services available, even through high school.”
In her senior year, her school brought in a social worker.
“That was my first access to that type of service,” Scott said. “Then, I realized I was really passionate about this.”
When she and other high school students attended a wellness fair in Midland, “it was a big eye opener,” she said.
“I realized I really like being able to positively impact other people’s lives.”
About 30 Georgian students have signed up for its Jack.org chapter. As Scott spoke with the students, she began to realize how important a service she was providing.
“They started sharing their stories with me,” she said. “It opened that door for them. We had some great conversations.”
Jack.org supports its chapters in their efforts to raise awareness, which include “Jack Talks,” fundraisers and other events. A big part of Scott’s role, she has found, is referring students to support services such as doctors and counsellors. She also arranged to have a clinical psychologist come in Wednesday to present an all-day workshop on eating disorders.
She is hoping Georgian will be a partner in the next initiative she wants to takes on. With the school being home to a veterinary technician program, Scott would like to bring dogs in to help relieve students’ stress.
“It’s a little thing, but it can make a big difference for someone,” she said.
Jack.org has hundreds of chapters in high schools, colleges and universities across Canada. Scott is hoping her chapter thrives, and she welcomes ideas for future events. To learn more, visit jack.org or email Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.