Around 180 youth from across Guelph, Wellington, and Dufferin gathered on Thursday, April 5th for We Matter, YouthTALK’s annual Wellness Conference.
YouthTALK, an initiative that started in 2004, addresses mental health and suicide. YouthTALK has in-school teams in schools all over the Wellington Dufferin area, as well as an open regional team that accepts members from Wellington-Dufferin and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Students learned about mindfulness, healthy nutrition, and stress throughout the day, filling the gym and different breakout rooms in the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex in Fergus, as they met and shared with peers from different schools and communities.
The youth heard from CMHA Waterloo Wellington’s Scott Grant, a mental health clinician with the Skills for Safer Living team, who spoke about his own lived experience with mental illness and what he’s learned from it.
“Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do,” Grant told the students. “It’s not being selfish.”
“It’s very possible to live a meaningful, wonderful life with a mental health diagnosis,” he added.
The day wrapped up with a speech from Myrna Hutchison, the founder of #GetInTouchForHutch. Hutchison lost her son, Steven, to suicide in 2013 and has since raised over $225,000 for mental health and suicide awareness initiatives.
“You can’t always choose the path you walk on in life, but you can choose the manner in which you walk it,” said Hutchison. “We don’t need to have all of the answers. We just need to know how to find someone the help that they need.”