A fourth-year Queen’s College pupil has been named the recipient of the Sharon Johnston Youth Award, one among seven Champions of Psychological Well being awards handed out by the Canadian Alliance on Psychological Sickness and Psychological Well being (CAMIMH).
Ervis Musa, a well being sciences pupil at Queen’s finishing a certificates in Incapacity and Bodily Exercise, obtained the award primarily in recognition of three student-led initiatives that goal to help different college students in establishing a stronger basis to construct from.
Musa’s strategy to psychological well being via these applications comes from extra of a well being and well-being promotion perspective, somewhat than advocacy and consciousness.
The primary of these three initiatives was NetworkYou, a platform began by Musa and a few buddies whereby incoming Queen’s college students might signal as much as be mentored by a pupil already attending the college and obtain recommendations on issues like lecturers and sustaining some form of social life within the midst of the pandemic.
Musa mentioned when he and buddies appeared for a mentorship alternative of this type, they discovered that the college was too slowed down in pandemic response and planning to supply something of the type. With a newly discovered abundance of free time because of COVID-19, coupled with what they recognized as a necessity within the Queen’s group, he mentioned they have been desirous to discover a method to assist.
“We form of simply noticed it as a chance to assist out and form of act as that liaison for them for a brief interval,” Musa mentioned.
“It was fairly neat to be form of part of one thing, particularly throughout a time when everybody was form of… nervous, not figuring out what’s going ahead or taking place.”
Musa mentioned that, whereas NetworkYou is not purposeful, early within the pandemic, over 300 mentors and 400 mentees registered, with check-ins within the coming months exhibiting an 80 per cent retention price.
In the midst of this, the first considerations of incoming college students began to turn out to be clear, and, in response, Musa began two different organizations: Simple A Tutoring which supplied fundamental, free tutoring to youth, and AdviseMe Actual Property, a program which supplied actual property/residing recommendation to youth.
Musa mentioned with the sudden additional time he and his friends had, they wished to go their expertise on to incoming college students to assist alleviate no matter stress they might.
“We have been simply doing our greatest, actually, that summer season to make the most of the time, notice the place folks had the best quantity of stress, and simply form of scale back that,” Musa mentioned.
“The pandemic simply triggered a whirlwind of non-public circumstances and conditions that folks simply couldn’t management. We simply needed to take that chance and see the place we might play our half and assist out the place we might… I really feel like, in a group, the perfect factor you are able to do is establish stressors and form of take that upstream strategy to scale back them earlier than they even turn out to be something.”
Musa mentioned that though there was a good quantity of labor to initially get platforms up and operating, it was actually the group help that was chargeable for their success. With out a supportive group able to take the following steps on, the platform wouldn’t have skilled the identical success, he mentioned.
“Throughout the Queen’s group and the Kingston group, there’s a robust help for that idea of connectedness and togetherness, and everybody’s greater than prepared to contribute to it,” Musa mentioned.
“That’s actually the one cause why these organizations turned profitable. It’s not due to something me or my friends did, it was extra so the response from the group and that eagerness to assist.”
The Champions of Psychological Well being Awards are handed out yearly to seven recipients in several classes and are supposed to establish people and teams who’re doing nice work of their group with psychological well being and spotlight the significance of psychological well being.
Florence Budden, Champions Chair at CAMIMH, mentioned that the awards handed out spotlight the achievements of people, but in addition look to lift consciousness of the gaps that also exists in psychological well being care within the nation and world.
“Psychological well being must be on par with all different elements of well being of their funding and help,” Budden mentioned.
“However I feel the most important factor is to say thanks and to rejoice Canadians in all completely different areas who’re doing such nice work throughout this nation in cities, in rural communities, in universities, in all places to help and promote the well being of Canadians and the psychological well being of Canadians.”
Budden recommended Musa’s work in selling psychological well being from an general wellness perspective, recognizing well being as a complete as an vital a part of psychological well-being.
She mentioned CAMIMH hopes that bringing focus to the work of Musa and different people helps to indicate everybody, and notably youth, that they, too, can play a job in selling optimistic psychological well being.
“They supply hope and inspiration to Canadians that, sure, you are able to do it too, that you’re not alone, that we see you and we see the whole lot that you simply’re doing,” Budden mentioned, “and hopefully which may encourage another people to get entangled, as effectively.”
Like Musa, Budden believes strongly that youth ought to completely have a voice and a hand in figuring out and deciding what is important to advertise psychological well-being. She and Musa each agreed that, with all psychological well being associated points, folks with lived expertise can have tremendously useful perception.
“Folks with lived or residing expertise of psychological well being points or substance use or something must be a part of the coverage creation,” Budden mentioned.
“That’s what’s vital, that voices are heard [of] people who find themselves experiencing it.”
CAMIMH will maintain a gala on October 5, 2022, to rejoice the recipients of the awards. Extra data on Musa’s work and the opposite Champions will be discovered right here.
Owen Fullerton is a reporter with the Native Journalism Initiative (LJI).