When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ontario, Hydro One recognized its role to support communities throughout the crisis. As the pandemic progressed, mental health became the main focus for Hydro One after recognizing the need for mental health supports within the Hydro One employee base.
Hydro One reached out to experts in revolutionizing mental health Jack.org to provide virtual Jack Talks, mental health presentations delivered by young people to young people.
In 2010, Queens University student Jack Windeler died by suicide at 18 years old. For whatever reason, Jack was unable to reach out for the help he needed.
After unexpectedly losing their son, parents Eric Windeler and Sandra Hannington launched Jack.org to engage youth in the most critical health issue of their generation, and to ensure that they can identify mental health struggles in themselves and others and have access to the support they need.
According to Jack.org, in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, the number of calls and texts to Kids Help Phone has surged by 300 per cent.
“There is no question that COVID-19 has, and will continue to, impact the mental health of young people across Ontario,” said Eric Windeler, Founder & Executive Director, Jack.org. “With the demand for mental health support services increasing daily, it is critical that youth across the province have access to the information and support they need. Hydro One’s commitment to building safe communities is so admirable, and by including mental health education in this mission, they’re addressing youth resiliency head-on across the province.”
Through this partnership, the organization will host 200 free live-streamed and recorded virtual Jack Talks in Ontario throughout 2021.
“The stress and strain we’re all feeling are undeniable,” explained Hydro One Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jay Armitage. “Mental health is just as important as physical safety, and we felt a deep responsibility to support communities through the pandemic.”
During a Jack Talk, trained and certified young speakers educate youth on mental health as well as provide practical advice on broaching conversations about mental health and resources to equip young people to look out for themselves and their peers.
“As a parent and team leader, I have to be concerned about long term impacts. Jack.org takes a different approach to be mental health advocates by focusing on youth and sharing stories between young people,” added Armitage. “That’s what drew us to the organization. Experiencing a Jack Talk shows the value of a human and practical approach.”
Residents are invited to attend Jack Talks led by two trained youth speakers on the following dates.
● February 18, 2021, led by Della Woodger and Alexa Hassall Shipman
● February 22, 2021, led by Julia Wickens and Kneev Sharma
● February 23, 2021, led by Jessica Landry and Josh Morin
Registration can be found at jack.org/Talks/Ontario-Talks-Series
Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer