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    Mental health efforts backed by Jack.org

    Participating students gather for a photo during Unleash the Noise, Jack.org’s flagship event each year. (Supplied photo)

    Mental health is a topic gaining traction on campuses across Canada, and a big reason for that change is Jack.org. Student-led, student-organized and student-driven, Jack.org is a group that’s dedicated to opening up the conversation about mental health and is encouraging young people to practice good self-care and to look out for their peers.

    Present on Queen’s campus for four years as the Jack Project, the organization rebranded this August as Jack.org to better reflect its current work. Now a national organization with chapters on campuses across Canada, Jack.org continues to promote student mental health initiatives.

    To help new ideas and programs about mental health take off, Jack.org has partnered with the Queen’s Student Initiative Fund (QSIF). The fund offers financial support to students who want to create programming to improve mental health on campus and in the Kingston community.

    “Queen’s is leading the way right now in making sure our students have the resources they need to be healthy and happy,” says Alex Burk, ArtSci ’15 and chair of the Jack.org/QSIF adjudication panel. “We’re looking for applicants that have innovative and exciting ideas about how to help students.”

    Funding has been awarded to a wide range of programs and events in recent years, helping cover the costs of mental health first aid training, the Alma Mater Society’s Peer Support Centre, the Concussion Awareness Committee and a number of others. Bounce Back, a program aimed at helping first-year students struggling with their academics, has also received funding from Jack.org/QSIF.  

    Queen’s students have been participating in events and campaigns connected to Jack.org in the past, and established an official Queen’s Chapter this past September. Students from Queen’s will continue to take part in the annual Jack Summit (formerly known as Unleash the Noise), and will hold a satellite summit on campus for students unable to attend the official event in Toronto.

    Since its creation this fall, Queen’s chapter of Jack.org has been busy. With funding from Jack.org/QSIF, the chapter has an array of programming in the works and are currently “Built-to-Bear” bags to students in residence. Each bag is a mental health kit filled with encouraging messages, study tips, resource maps and other helpful items. They have more initiatives planned for the winter semester.

    “We’re raising awareness about our presence here on campus,” says Shannon Dillon, ConEd ’16 and co-Chapter Head at Queen’s. “We’re excited to make some noise and let other students know that it’s okay to talk about mental health.”