Donald S. Ethell Youth Award
"The majority of adults living with a mental illness say their symptoms developed before they were 18 years old. Young people are at high risk of being stigmatized and the fear of stigma often delays diagnosis and treatment; therefore, early intervention can make an enormous difference in the quality of life of an individual. A major survey conducted by Opening Minds in partnership with Statistics Canada found that youth are the group in the Canadian population most affected by stigma. Nearly 60% of youth 25 years of age and under, treated for a mental illness in the past year, reported being affected by the impact of stigma compared to fewer than 20 % of adults 45 years of age and over.
There is also some evidence that Canadian youth may experience higher levels of emotional distress than youth in other countries. In a multi-country study conducted by the World Health Organization, Canadian students were among the most likely to report feeling depressed for a week or more, with estimates ranging from a quarter to over one third, depending on age and gender.”
In addition to contact-based education for youth, the MHCC report recommended that “booster activities occur at regular intervals throughout the year to consolidate and improve effects”. From Opening Minds Interim Report, Nov 18, 2013; Mental Health Commission of Canada
The LG Circle recognized that, to gain greater impact in changing attitudes about mental health, the message requires on-going exposure in addition to the primary programs and awards ceremony. Thus we are delighted to introduce an award targeted to an Alberta youth, or group of youth, aged 12-25, with or without lived experience. The award will recognize their contribution in raising awareness regarding Mental Health or efforts to reduce stigma around Mental Illness and Addiction.
Nancy is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health in Population Health from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C. Her public health interests are in youth mental health literacy and promotion, as well as youth engagement and capacity-building. Before trading the snow for rain, Nancy completed her B.Sc (Psychology Specialization) from the University of Alberta where her contributions to youth mental health advocacy first began through Jack.org, a national youth mental health non-profit organization. As a founding member of the student group Jack.org UAlberta, Nancy co-led campus wide initiatives aimed to increase mental health awareness and decrease stigma among her peers. This included hosting a conference that brought together 200 post-secondary students in Edmonton for a day of knowledge sharing and skill building. In 2016, she had the opportunity to share her work in youth mental health through Jack.org with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the Royal Tour 2016 in Victoria, B.C.
Currently, Nancy is a member of the Advisory on Youth Matters for Frayme, an international network of partners working to transform the delivery of youth mental health and substance use services through the stepped-care and integrated youth services (IYS) model. Additionally, Nancy works as a Youth Peer Engagement Coordinator at Foundry, an IYS model that provides health and social services to young people (12-24yo) in B.C. As Foundry centres are created with, and for, young people, Nancy’s role allows her to advocate for and work with young people to ensure they are meaningfully and appropriately engaged throughout.
Recognizing that one day she will no longer be a young person, Nancy is working to identify how she can best be an adult ally for young people as she continues to work in the area of youth mental health and hopes others will do the same. How can we all engage in allyship to support the overall well-being of the young people in our lives and in our communities?
I am driven by my desire to make a positive impact wherever I go. I have always wanted to make places such as the City of Calgary a more open and equally opportunistic environment for all people regardless of their background or situation. Some of the areas I have always been passionate about are equal opportunities to education, providing equal opportunity to quality treatment for brain and mental health, equal opportunities for youth to jobs and a career in the profession of their desire. I want to achieve a work-life balance where I can excel in my academics as well as have time to give back to my community here in Canada and back in India.
To become a true leader and nurture my leadership, I embrace qualities like communication, shared vision, collaboration, integration, health advocacy, scholarly activities, and symbiotic working skills. I have reached to the level of President of RANA (Rajasthan Association of North America) Calgary’s youth wing in a very short span of 4 years. I believe in a shared vision, multiplying rather than micromanaging, cohesive and co-creation, trust-based networking, creating a robust personal learning network by nurturing weak ties, identifying clear values and if things do not work then bending the system to accelerate changes. I founded the RANA Diversity Run in 2014 and in the year 2018, under my leadership, we have raised over $25,000, our highest total in the 4 years and received the best fundraiser award from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation. In total, we have raised over $75,000 since we started the RANA Diversity Run 4 years ago. My other community work includes volunteer work at the Calgary Food Bank as well as working and volunteering with People for Progress foundation, which strives to bring education to children in Tanzania. I also have been raising funds, creating promotional material, and creating connections and opportunities for the students of the school Nethraheen Kalyan Sangh blind school in Jaipur, India. While serving the community, I believe in the following quotes by Mahatma Gandhi:
“Humility is selfishness and egotism.”
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
I was a curious and engaged child, despite health challenges like Febrile Convulsion and a tumor in my jaw at age 11 that required major surgery. Rather than sulking, I used my experiences with adversity to help and understand the needs of my community, focusing on initiatives such as mentoring students with severe autism at my previous high school. I have been fortunate to have received different academic awards for my continuous strive for academic excellence while continuously dedicating my time towards philanthropic work locally and internationally, that I believe are of great importance. Recently, I was honoured with The Princess Diana Award for my desire to create and sustain a positive impact in the city of Calgary and my international initiatives in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.