By Sidney Drmay
Bita Pourvahidi started the Jack.org Ryerson chapter just over a year ago to bring more mental health awareness to campus. On Sept 30, she got to see her efforts take another step forward when she and fellow Jack member Shayan Yazdanpanah travelled to Victoria, B.C. to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate.
“It’s a cause that’s close to my heart. I think mental health is so important and it’s becoming more prominent, especially among young people,” Pourvahidi said.
Jack.org is a national network of young leaders that works to transform the way mental health is talked about in Canada through on-campus chapters, talks and a yearly summit that gathers 200 students from across the country.
In total, nineteen students from across Canada travelled to meet the royal couple and discuss mental health initiatives. They all took to the harbour to sail during their conversation, where they broke into smaller groups of five to allow one-on-one conversation.
“At the beginning we raised sail which was amazing and a good icebreaker because everyone was getting comfortable with the fact that the Duke and Duchess are right next to us,” Pourvahidi said.
Pourvahidi was able to speak with the Duke and Duchess about starting the Jack chapter at Ryerson and what mental health initiatives are currently happening on campus.
“People are approaching us and asking questions,” Pourvahidi said, adding that she’s excited for the upcoming year. Jack has plans to release blue coffee sleeves that say five in five to represent the fact that, while one in five students experience mental illness, five in five have mental health.