Student groups work together to raise money for CAMH

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By Melissa Salamo

Ryerson’s Toastmasters club and DECA Ryerson student leaders joined together in TRSM this week to raise money for a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) fundraising campaign.

The proceeds collected will contribute to the $25,000 goal Ted Rogers Students’ Society (TRSS) and 14 other student groups, including two outside of TRSM, hope to donate to the CAMH campaign called One Brave Night. This year’s contribution is an $8,500 increase from last year’s goal.

Ryerson Toastmasters is an officially chartered Toastmasters International group that helps Ryerson students improve their public speaking and leadership skills. DECA Ryerson aims to help students’ analytical, presentation and networking skills through training sessions and networking events.

According to Marco Briganti, the Hospitality and Tourism Director for TRSS, the decision to contribute to the campaign arose from different student groups looking for an opportunity to give back to the community. Briganti said the One Brave Night event is a great opportunity for everyone to come together for a good cause.*

This year, TRSS contacted other groups outside the TRSM community such as the Professional Communications Course Union and the Ryerson Engineering Student Society to help raise funds.

“I really wanted to make it more cross-campus this year, because it’s not just TRSM students that deal with this, but everyone,” Briganti said.

Ryerson’s One Brave Night event will take place in the first week of April. Each participating student group hopes to raise $1,000 before then. Students, faculty and staff plan to stay up all night sharing stories, participating and hearing speakers in support of mental health awareness.

Ryerson Toastmasters is planning to spread awareness and reach their $1,000 goal in the next few weeks with their largest event, Ryerson’s Next Top Speaker. Half of the $10 ticket can either be reimbursed or donated to CAMH. So far, 80 per cent of tickets have been sold.

“We are very happy that TRSS is doing something about it. We’re all doing this together, but the thing is a lot of people don’t feel the need to show support because they haven’t experienced [mental health issues],” Brenda Xia, Toastmasters’ VP of marketing, said. “You might have close friends that are going through it, so you must at least support them.”

About two years ago, Xia experienced depression and anxiety and was undergoing treatment and seeing psychiatrists at CAMH.

“You wake up everyday with no motivation or encouragement to do anything, you can’t focus and you don’t know what to do,” Xia said. “Everytime that you start to chase something you desire, anxiety just starts eating [at] you, and you feel so vulnerable and weak.”

A common misconception about those with mental illness is that they are violent and dangerous, according to a CAMH community guide.

“It’s not something people can fully understand, however what my team and I are trying to do is build that awareness for people to know that it does exist and it’s not as dangerous or as taboo as people think,” Xia said.

When Xia opened up to her social worker at CAMH and started talking about what she was going through, she said she felt so much better.

“Just imagine that you have a huge stone stuck in your heart and all of a sudden you are able to release it … you automatically feel so much better,” Xia said. “If nobody says anything, than nothing can ever be changed.”

In any given year, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Kruti Dave, DECA Ryerson’s VP of corporate social responsibility and collaborations, said she believes spreading awareness and knowledge about what is happening outside the “four walls in which we’re studying” is necessary.

“There’s so much more going [on] outside this building … and it’s important to know about it,” Dave said.

Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify that Briganti was referring to the One Brave Night event.

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