How Jack Summit Changed My Life

This past weekend (March 4th-6th, 2016) I had the honor of attending the 4th Annual Jack Summit in Toronto, Ontario. Jack Summit is a conference that bring together 200 youth from all corners of the country for three days to network, learn and change the world of mental health and mental health stigma. This summit is hosted by Jack.org, the only national network of young leaders transforming the way we think about mental health.

In November, I was so lucky to have been chosen as one of the 200 delegates from a pool of over 800 applicants. I was so happy to have been chosen because as a youth who has been struggling with mental illness for more or less their whole life, I was no stranger to stigma and its effects. I struggle with general and social anxiety, major depressive disorder, adjustment disorder, borderline personality disorder, disordered eating, ptsd and psychosis, so to be able to surround myself with people struggling with the same/similar things who also want to change the world was a dream come true.

From the minute I arrived I felt welcome and even though it took me a while to open up to people, start talking and making connections, I felt in my element the whole time. I was not expecting for the youth and organizers to be so educated on a variety of issues, such as trans identities (even non binary ones!), problems within mental health activism, and how mental illness effects people of various identities. I felt respected and loved the whole time, and I didn’t feel like I had to hide myself.

This weekend was amazing. I met amazing people, and learned amazing things. I was so blessed to be able to experience this and I am sure these people I met this weekend will be there for me whenever I need them even if they are on the other side of the country, and we will be friends for life.

Thank you Jack.org and see you all next year!