By Julia Lennips 
BELLEVILLE – College and university students from an organization called jack.org spoke to Loyalist College students about mental health on Wednesday.
Jack.org  is a student-run organization that helps empower students to break down barriers surrounding mental health and stigmas surrounding the topic.
It encourages students aged anywhere between 16 to 25 to join in on the conversation.
Emilie Leneveu is a graduate from Loyalist College, and is now a mental health speaker and advocate with the organization. She says around this time last year Loyalist College  didn’t have a jack.org chapter.
“I myself was struggling to find resources in the area for mental health, and I stumbled upon jack.org. I decided to form the chapter last year…and decided I wanted to be a speaker and just got really really passionate about the organization.”
One in five people struggle with mental health at some point of their lives. Leneveu says awareness around mental health is important because it affects all of us.
“We have a crazy amount of curriculum already created for physical health. We have so many specific courses based on physical health but mental health is just severely lacking in this day and age and I think given it’s 2018 we really need to just step up and raise awareness.”
She says a lot of students have been showing interest in the organization since the beginning of the school year.
“I love that people at Loyalist — students and staff alike — are all interested in mental health they just need that extra knowledge, the knowledge that unfortunately society isn’t providing right now when it comes to mental health.”
Nicole Dellamora is also a jack.org speaker who graduated from Queens University  in 2016.
That’s where she first heard about jack.org.
“It really hit home for me because I had been supporting my friends through mental health crisis all through high school and I was seeking help myself. I never really felt like it was easy or it was something that was okay to talk about, so after I graduated I decided to become a speaker.”
She says it is important to start the conversation early.
“I really wanted to kind of make it easier than it was for me, and I thought that educating people that are our age and really talking about it was the best way to do that.”
The response to the talks has been very positive according to Dellamora.
“There’s been a lot of students after the talks that come up to me and say that that’s the first time someone has ever made it okay for me to talk about mental health.”
She says jack.org is very beneficial for students and what they talk about is something students can easily relate to.
“We talk about our own stories, and that’s a huge part of jack.org is students talking to other students about their mental health struggles and hoping that other people can relate and feel welcome and encouraged to seek support and seek help and open up.”