Every May, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) celebrates Mental Health Week, to bring awareness and spur conversations surrounding mental health. Usually, mental health is discussed with relation to mental illness, and thought of as something only some people ‘deal’ with. However, mental health is neither inherently positive or negative; and it’s something that each of us have.
At NPower Canada, we encourage our staff to have conversations about mental health. Over 100 staff members have participated in mental health training, and recently, we announced that we have tripled coverage for our staff for services provided by mental health professionals. Offering our staff comprehensive support in all areas of wellbeing, including mental health, is part of what we believe makes NPower Canada a Great Place to Work®️.
CAMH’s 2023 theme for Mental Health Week is #MyStory. Sharing a personal story about mental health can reinforce feelings of strength and perseverance, and storytelling is an important tool for destigmatization. That’s why this week, we’re excited to share a Guest Blog Post, written by Alexander M., alumni turned Junior Technical Instructor.
Hello all, my name is Alex, and this is a small part of #MyStory of mental health.
Mental wellbeing has been an important part of my life ever since I realized how much it impacted my relation to the world around me. Emotions are intricate, and understanding them is a lifelong pursuit. We all have passions, joys, fears, preferences, tolerances, and everyone is a unique blend of these complex emotions. I believe it is in this uniqueness that we can find strength.
From a young age, I’ve loved technology. When I was a toddler, I would play with TV wires, disconnecting and reconnecting them. My parents would ask me what I was doing, to which I would respond, “I’m fixing!” . I wish I could say I was a kid genius, but it wasn’t until much later that I actually learned how to fix, through troubleshooting and repair, after years of genuine curiosity about how things work.
Other than my love for technology, something else I discovered at a young age was that I had social anxiety. I had a hard time making friends, and was pretty awkward. That’s not to say I’m not still a bit awkward today, but I’ve gotten a lot better over the years! My uniqueness back then made me feel isolated. Uniqueness is an easy target for poking fun when you are a child, where difference is seen as weakness.
As I got older, and gained more freedom when starting college, I began to better understand myself and my mental wellbeing. As I started to get to know myself better, and with the support of professionals and family members, I learned how to overcome my anxiety. For me, that meant immersion therapy – as scary as it was, participating in class was exactly what I had to do to overcome my anxiety. The more I did it, the more I got used to it. Over time, my anxiety diminished little by little. I continued this practice with other social interactions that made me feel uncomfortable, and I gained confidence and comfortability through practice.
After college, I heard about NPower Canada and applied to their Junior Data Analyst program. Although nervous to disclose personal information, I told staff about my diagnoses, hoping for support. Support is exactly what I received at NPower Canada. Because I told staff about my needs, NPower Canada was able to build a custom support structure for me. What I learned is that communication is key to overcoming barriers. When we discuss our challenges, we are able to collaborate on strategies to overcome them.
After graduating from the Junior Data Analyst program, I was approached to be a Junior Technical Instructor here at NPower Canada. The team had not only supported me throughout my journey as a participant, but now wanted me to be a member of their staff. The wraparound support developed by NPower Canada really allows us to set each other up for success. Participants’ needs are actively considered, and now, being on the other side of it, I am happy to find the same collaborative spirit within the organization.
NPower Canada believed in me and that has had such a powerful impact on my mental wellbeing, helping me to break out of my depression. Every step of the way, my peers, colleagues, and managers have been incredibly supportive. I have been able to combine my passion for technology and teaching, and I am so proud of myself that I am now confident enough to be in front of dozens of people to lecture and facilitate, which has become a source of joy instead of anxiety.
I hope that my experience at NPower Canada is not an isolated incident, but a reflection that as a society, we are progressing and taking a more humanistic approach to caring for one another. We’ve become better at celebrating uniqueness and identifying strengths where we previously perceived weakness. Adjusting our mindset has allowed us to become more in tune with mental wellbeing and ensure that we are supporting one another throughout our journeys. Together, we are strong, and our different puzzle pieces make a beautiful tapestry.
I hope my story encourages others to share their journey with mental wellbeing, and gives you the confidence to pursue your dreams. Any challenge can be overcome with the right support and perseverance. Sometimes, all it takes is for us to believe in each other, and in ourselves, to achieve and succeed.