“I grew up in Newfoundland in a town of 10,000, so moving to a big city like Toronto I thought I’d see a more impersonal, detached attitude from my neighbours,” he recalls. “But my neighbourhood is a warm, family friendly and vibrant community – it's not what I expected at all.”
As a now proud East Yorker, and an inpatient social worker on the child and adolescent mental health unit at Michael Garron Hospital, Sean knows how important it is to have conversations about mental health in our community, particularly when it comes to teens and young adults.
“I work closely with a mainly teenage population, and frequently see the effects of bullying – particularly cyberbullying – in schools and among peers. These situations can often lead to an increase in mental health symptoms,” he says, “and many teens feel too ashamed to seek the help they need.”
Sean’s awareness of the mental health crisis many teens face is a big reason why he decided to become a Kick the Stigma committee member this year.
Breaking down barriers
For a second year, Michael Garron Hospital Foundation is rallying our East Toronto community in support of the well-being of our neighbours affected by mental health and addiction. Kick the Stigma, a day-long soccer tournament and community festival, will again take place at Monarch Park Stadium on September 21. Funds raised will help to break down the preconceptions associated with mental health disorders and build state-of-the-art mental health facilities at Michael Garron Hospital.
The experience of a mental health disorder often comes with an enormous stigma that prevents those struggling with mental illness or addictions from getting the help they need.
“Events like Kick the Stigma are really important in encouraging our community members to talk openly about mental health, and help remove barriers for people who are seeking help,” says Sean.
Sean is also in the early stages of recruiting his mental health coworkers and peers to help him create a team.
“Getting involved on the day, creating or joining a team is a worthwhile endeavor for anyone, especially for those who work here at the hospital,” he says. “For those of us who work in the mental health field, it’s even more important. Mental health really is an issue that affects us all.”