Excerpt from the Media Release written by youth participants Rob, 17 and Richelle, 16
The basis of this group was formed on the foundation of understanding, what it means to have a mental illness and abolishing many of the archetypes many associate with mental illness. The students were exposed to the reality of mental issues and made aware of the barriers many feel to accessing the help they need. Small towns, like Strathroy, are subject to isolation for those who are experiencing mental health issues. Lack of resources or understanding make many feel there is shame, dishonour, or disgrace automatically coupled with mental illness. With this attitude they are less likely to reach out and seek out help.
What we created...
"Small Town Canada" Poster
In this poster there is a sign that shows a population of 4,100 and below the sign is stated that 4,000 persons die from suicide. To the right of the sign, the cemetery is sitting with many rows of tombstones illuminating the amount of death. This poster tells you that there is something seriously wrong when the equivalent of suicide in Canada in a year would be that whole town's population. It sends a strong message to the person that is seeing the poster because the large cemetery puts the statistics into perspective. Awareness is essential if we ever hope to abolish astounding statistics in such as well established country. Recognition is the first step to change. We are hoping people will be more likely to notice mental health issues such as suicide in their own small towns, and reach out to the resources.
"Be a Man" Card
This card plays on the barriers our gender roles have placed in tact for us. The front of this card is misleading with the tagline "Be a Man" which is actually repealed on the backside which says "When the going gets tough, the tough get help". The objective of the card was to show men that they don't have to be ashamed or considered weak if they have a mental illness. In reality we are trying to show it takes a stronger person to recognize their problem and seek help from others. We are hoping to eliminate these barriers by urging revolt against the roles we are accustomed to.
"Hurting Inside" Poster
Our second poster shows an upset looking football player sitting alone in the stadium with his head hung into his palms. The tagline "You can't always see what hurts" establishes that he is upset about something deeper than a bad game and suggests he could be dealing with larger issues. Depression is a wide spread issue and one in every five teenagers will experience depression. We made this poster in hopes that people would realize how large a problem suicide is in our very own society and from there address the issue.