High school mental health program reaching thousands
‘Is it Just Me?’ program has helped more than 16,000 students
When Brianne Moore was trying to finish high school and mental illness got in the way, she turned to Kellie Scrim, a guidance counsellor at her school, for help.
“When I was at my lowest point, I was in my final year of high school, and I was really struggling and didn’t know where to go to get the help I needed,” said Moore. “I depended on Kellie and she guided me in the right direction.”
Moore has been experiencing symptoms of mental illness since she was four years old. She began experiencing depression at 13, and at age 17 she was diagnosed with several mental illnesses.
For part of Grade 12, Moore was an in-patient at The Royal and was unable to attend school. “I could depend on Kellie and the school to make sure I could still finish, and that I was going to graduate on time and my life wasn’t going to fall behind because I was an in-patient,” she said.
Now, Scrim hears Moore’s story of recovery several times a year at The Royal’s high school mental health literacy program, “Is it Just Me?”
Over the last seven years, “Is it Just Me?” has equipped more than 16,000 students, most of them in high school, with evidence-based knowledge on mental health and illness. The goal of this stigma-breaking program is to demolish the barriers of silence and get youth talking.
Students learn about mental health from a psychologist and an addiction counsellor, get a fascinating glimpse into their own minds from a neuroscientist, learn helpful ways to manage stress, and hear the powerful stories of young people living with mental illness. Moore is one of those speakers, telling her personal story with mental illness. She also speaks at high schools and conferences, sharing her journey and hope for recovery.
“Brianne will always have a very special place in my heart. It’s emotional to see her up there. I’ve always believed in her,” said Scrim. “She started being an advocate in high school, and even in the middle of some of her tougher days, she’s been the source of hope for a lot of people.”
Scrim has been bringing students to “Is it Just Me?” since it began.
“For students to hear from young adults close to their age who have gone through tough, tough times but been able to persevere and get the support and help they needed — that’s powerful,” she said. “It’s also so valuable to see the scientific approach the program takes. Students actually see and understand how mental illness and substance use affect the brain.”
“Is it Just Me?” is open to high school students throughout eastern
For students to hear from young adults close to their age who have gone through tough, tough times but been able to persevere and get the support and help they needed — that’s powerful.
Ontario. This extremely popular program is funded by community donations and has been demonstrated to increase students’ readiness to seek help when they need it.