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UBC Okanagan students break down mental health stigma by raising their voices at summit

Mental health summit held at UBC Okanagan
WATCH: UBC Okanagan was home to the Raise Your Voice Summit on Jan. 25, a day-long event that was designed to inspire a new generation of mental health advocates.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, UBC Okanagan hosted the Voices in the Valley Summit, a day-long event in partnership with Jack.org that was designed to inspire a new generation of mental health advocates.

“We are bringing them [students] together and giving them tools in a mental health 101 to really cover the basics and coping strategies to make sure we as advocates ourselves are taking care of ourselves,” said Kimberly Rutledge, organizer.

The UBC Okanagan chapter of the charity, which helps train and empower youth, is geared toward changing the way people speak about mental health and teaches participants how to help others.

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“A big issue we are trying to solve is a stigma,” said Rutledge.

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“There’s a lot of stigma in mental health, in our communities and especially in universities. I think we take pride in struggling for some reason and we really want to advocate to students that it’s not right.”

Helping men open up about mental health struggles
Helping men open up about mental health struggles

One of the speakers at the summit was Kate Wright, captain of the Women’s National Field Hockey Team, who has played at three Pan American Cups and in the Pan Am Games, as well as twice in the Commonwealth Games.

She shared her own mental health struggles that stemmed from her team’s unsuccessful attempts at qualifying for the Olympics over her 13-year career.

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“Especially in sports, we face a lot of emotions physically and mentally and we need to start breaking down the stigma that all athletes are strong and resilient, which we are but, at the end of the day we still struggle with everyday mental health wellness,” said Wright.

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More than 50 students and volunteers attended the Voices in the Valley Summit.

For more information about being a mental health advocate visit Jack.org