Create a close-knit, positive, community of students who share having experience with battling mental illnesses and provide safe spaces for them to get real about their disorders and effective means to raise awareness of them
The Student Mental Health Pros (SMHP) is a club on the University of Calgary campus founded in the summer of 2020. It was built on the belief that no one understands mental illnesses like people who have lived with them themselves. And that with such personal experiences, people who have lived with mental illnesses are especially well suited to support others living with the illness they have and to educate the public on their disorders. Hence, we excitedly set forward to fulfill the vision below.
There are various ways we plan on achieving those aims. Initiatives we are currently working on are
• Awareness raising through social media campaigns
• Fundraising for organizations that provide mental health care
We spent half of summer 2020 working out what achieving our aims through these means would look like. Seeing our plans come to life has been unreal and we are so grateful for the encouragement we've had so far for what we are building. For all these different enterprises, there are ways for you to get involved, we invite you to join us in the pursuit of our vision!
Read on on the members of the SMHP executive team, a team of dedicated and highly thoughtful students who have been working relentlessly for months to bring the SMHP vision to life.
I'm in my fourth year in Cellular, Molecular and Microbial Biology! Ever since I learned about mental illnesses, I’ve been drawn to educate myself on them and to do what I can to help others be knowledgeable of them too. That’s because those internal battles seemed really tough to me and I believed they should be recognized as such. It's only recently that I found out a reason I understand those struggles so well is that I am living with mental illnesses myself. I am so thrilled I have been able to establish this club and super pleased with the executive team we have dedicating itself to its aims! A fun fact about me is that I’ve become a baldie five times by now!
I am a Biological Sciences and Psychology double major. I am passionate about learning about and advocating for mental health, wellbeing, and anti-stigma work. Particularly ever since my first personal experience with mental illness. It actually caused me to immediately add Psychology as my second major, to learn more, and inspired me to aim to be a psychiatrist. That's what I call life-changing (at least a positive spin on it)! As VP Engagement, I strive to create and facilitate enthralling, enjoyable and interactive events to allow members to bond and create connections with others that live with mental illnesses and their supportive allies. Having a community of people that can begin to understand and/or relate to ones' own daily struggles, is invaluable to the maintenance of wellbeing. Additionally, events can be a good form of stress relief and distraction after a long day of classes and responsibilities. Weaved through out the fun is educational moments to help people understand their own and others' mental illness experiences, particularly misperceptions that often cloud mental illnesses. Fun fact about me is that I am successfully filming 1 second of my day every day!
I am in my third year of Biological Sciences. A fun fact about me is I have major wanderlust and love travelling and adventures. Although I don't have a mental illness myself, I've seen how important mental health is from the experiences of those around me. My ultimate aim is to help others, educate myself, and spread awareness around mental health! I am so grateful to be able to advocate for mental health with a team of talented and passionate individuals. I am excited to continue our utilization of platforms to making a meaningful impact in our community and beyond.
I'm in my first year studying Art History, after spending a year studying design at AUArts. My experience in counseling and learning to live safely with mental illness changed my life in an incredible way. I'm very passionate about normalizing therapy and making it more accessible to everyone, so that others can find their way on their own journeys. I am nonbinary, my pronouns are they/them, and finding appropriate mental health resources was a difficult but pivotal part of my transition. As VP Marketing, I hope to expand the reach of our community and make finding the right resources a much easier process for anyone struggling. A fun fact about me is that I absolutely adore fish, and I have a betta named Wonky who I've raised since he was extremely sick as a baby.
Jr. Marketing Executive
Aydin Ivan Herik
I am a first year Biomedical Sciences Major. As an individual who has been affected by mental illness, I think that it is extremely important for individuals to speak up about their personal experiences. No one should feel that they are alone when they are navigating the road towards a healthier mind, and the best way to show others how to live with their mental illnesses is through examples and a safe-space for discourse. I am thrilled to be able to contribute towards the de-stigmatizing of mental illness through this wonderful club, and a fun fact about me is that I love MMA and tattoos (please send me your cool tattoo pictures).
VP Operations & Finance
I’m a second year biology major hoping to specialize in plant biology. A fun fact about me is that I love art and especially love painting nature. Because of my personal experiences with mental health as well as a strong desire to support my friends with their mental health, I deeply care about supporting mental health programs, encouraging everyone to take good care of themselves, and making mental health a safe and normal topic in everyday life.
I am in my fourth year of Biochemistry and completing an embedded certificate in Mental Wellbeing and Resilience. I have been an advocate for mental health since I was 12, and my passion strengthened when I experienced depression in my first year. Within my portfolio, I hope to bring as much awareness as possible to the unique experiences of having a mental illness. At the same time, I aim to educate the community on how to support loved ones on their recovery journey. Fun fact about me is that I did musical theatre for 5 years—ask me about the time I played Fiona from Shrek!