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.
Hassan Nawab, a recipient of numerous national distinctions, including the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award, is described by people around him as an engine for change. Hassan learned through the course of his honors psychology degree the prevalence of mental health challenges in student populations. As an advocate for mental health, Hassan single-handedly decided to create Active Minds at the University of Alberta, a social initiative dedicated to raising awareness, reducing stigma, and promoting tangible action surrounding mental health.
His efforts through Active Minds has contributed to the creation of numerous programs, geared to set the stage for community involvement, action, and to change the conversation about mental health. Hassan has helped foster an environment for positive change and increased wellness throughout campus. Recently recognized as a Wellness Champion at the University of Alberta, Hassan demonstrated strong leadership in coordinating health services and campus resources.
Hassan values diversity and inclusion in his approach, and he works tirelessly with other students and organizations in developing a collective community driven approach. This is evident in Hassan’s collaborations with other professionals, community members and organizations in creating an annual Mental Health Banquet, a community night dedicated to conversations surrounding mental health from diverse perspectives.
Hassan has been instrumental in designing a number of tangible creative programs with Active Minds, that aim to support different aspects of mental health. By creating and leading the Mental Health Supporter Program as well as an interactive resource portal on www.activemindsualberta.com, Hassan has helped individuals access easy-to-navigate, centralized mental health resources, with the aim of connecting those who need help when they need it.