SHERIDANtalk aims to break barriers surrounding mental health


Innovators from the mental health world will join Sheridan students to “break the barrier” about mental health issues.

On April 9, health and wellness peer mentors will hold a SHERIDANtalk featuring Eric Windeler, founder of The Jack Project, Arthur Gallant, Bell’s 2013 Faces of Mental Health, Mark Henick, a TEDx Toronto speaker, and a few student speakers.

“We want people to understand that mental illness is not on the outside. If you don’t know somebody who has a mental health illness, you don’t understand how it is, how delicate they may be or what they go through on a daily basis,” said Suzanne Sarhan, a second-year Social Service student and a health and wellness peer mentor.

Sheridan is working to open the conversation around mental health because one in five Canadians (according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) experience mental health and addiction problems.

“We want to make it a very open conversation and a non-judgmental, safe environment,” said Sarhan.

SHERIDANtalk was inspired by and follows the concept of a TEDTalk. TED is a non-profit organization that works to spread ideas through powerful talks.

“It’s going to be kind of a mixture of a TED Talk and Unleash the Noise, both having the components of hearing speakers and having brain storm sessions,” said Cheryl Cnoop-Koopmans, a student advisement counsellor.

Unleash the Noise is an initiative started by The Jack Project and run by students, which hosts the Student Mental Health Innovation Summit.

The Jack Project is a charitable organization devoted to the legacy of Jack Windeler, a Queen’s University student who committed suicide.

The organization was founded in 2010 by Jack’s parents, Eric Windeler and Sandra Hanington, with the aim of having “No More Silence” around the topic of mental health issues.

Justine Howard, a health and wellness peer mentor, will be one of the student speakers.

“I’m a very open person and I’ve had certain life experiences that have allowed me to accept that I need to be open and talk about things,” said Howard.

The student speakers will share their experiences with the direct and indirect impacts of mental health.

“We feel the student speakers are the ones who will reach out to other students the most because it helps them relate to mental health on a student to student level,” said Sarhan.
unnamedPeople who attend the event will talk to local experts and get involved in discussion groups and a question and answer panel with the speakers. SHERIDANtalk will address initiatives including Bell’s “Let’s Talk” Day, Opening Minds, What a Difference a Friend Makes and Unleash the Noise: Innovation Summit on Mental Health.

Mentality Matters, a new club at Sheridan, will also be at the event.

“We’ll be talking about the different illnesses and how to support someone who has a mental health illness as a family member, a student, a teacher or as a friend,” said Muna Nawabit, president of Mentality Matters.

Attendees will leave SHERIDANtalk with a certificate of attendance and an informed mind about mental health.