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On Tuesday, October 4, three students from Arrowwood school attended the inaugural Headstrong Youth Anti-Stigma Summit at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Put on by the Mental Health Commission of Canada specifically for First Nations, Métis and rural students, the summit focused on open dialogue, encouragement, and the tools needed to confront mental health stigma directly. Students were challenged by speakers who told their stories of struggle and recovery from depression and other mental illnesses.
First Nation's rap artist Drezus brought a message of strength and conviction to the summit asking students to believe in themselves and their abilities to become leaders in their communities.
Later in the day, students were divided into small groups to discuss and come up with stigma-challenging activities they could share with their classmates when they returned to school. Ideas such as possible support groups, a dedicated mental health week and bringing in inspirational speakers were put forth.
It was wonderful to see students from across Alberta come together and express their feelings about a subject that is often misunderstood.