Mental health efforts worth recognition
April 13, 2022
Mental health plays an integral role in shaping our outlook and how we approach life, which is why Queen’s graduate student Ampai Thammachack is committed to supporting systemic change in mental healthcare.
As the founder of not-for-profit organizations Step Above Stigma and The Glass Slipper Organization, Thammachack was recently selected as a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth and will receive a $10,000 grant for philanthropic use.
Currently pursuing a master’s in human geography, Thammachack didn’t always envision herself at Queen’s, let alone founding two not-for-profit organizations aimed at raising awareness of mental health and combating stigma.
For Thammachack, the issue of mental health is personal. Growing up in Bedford, N.S., she experienced her own mental health issues. Seeking help from counsellors and other available resources, Thammachack began her journey towards improving her mental health as well as helping others who may be struggling.
“Through my own experiences coping with undiagnosed PTSD for most of my life and watching my friends and family struggle with their mental health, I realized the importance of mental health advocacy,” Thammachack says. “Being selected as a L’Oréal Woman of Worth is incredibly rewarding as it has given me the opportunity to help others understand that they do not need to make themselves small and recognize that help is available.”
Prior to attending Queen’s for her undergraduate studies Thammachack started The Glass Slipper Organization, a non-profit group responsible for donating more than 1,000 prom dresses to students unable to afford a gown for graduation and formal events.
While completing a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health science, Thammachack created Step Above Stigma, an organization selling socks marked with the slogan “Step Above Stigma” and donates 100 per cent of the proceeds to mental health organizations across Canada. To date, the organization has held 504 events and initiatives, raised over $120,000, served 480,000 individuals, and drawn the support of 100 student volunteers.
Focusing on marginalized groups disproportionately affected by barriers to mental health care due to race, gender and socio-economic status, Thammachack’s aim is to raise awareness and normalize the importance of getting help.
L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth 2022
As one of 10 award recipients honoured at this year’s event, Thammachack joins an exclusive class of women who have engaged in giving back and volunteering their time to serve their communities.
“The funding from L’Oréal will help push for systemic change in the mental healthcare system and move towards destigmatizing mental health,” she says. “It has given me an incredible opportunity to amplify Step Above Stigma’s message that mental health matters and is just as important as physical health.”
A virtual presentation celebrating the award winners was made on International Women’s Day this year.