A small grassroots movement launched at a Calgary high school has now reached a global audience and raised thousands of dollars for mental health. Grade 12 student Brett Rothery, 16, asked Crescent Heights High School, where he attends, to donate five cents to Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Calgary for every social media post with the hashtag #CHHSLetsTalk. The school agreed, and within the campaign’s first nine hours, they had surpassed the goal of 10,000 tweets.
Since then, the hashtag has been shared and retweeted more than 100,000 times by people all over the world. Once the school’s initial goal of $500 had been surpassed, local companies stepped in with donations to keep the campaign going. To date, the campaign has now raised more than $20,000.
Bringing greater awareness to mental health issues resonated with Rothery as he knows all too well the anxiety and stress of high school.
“I think kids are a little bit afraid of being judged. That’s why we’ve been doing this so we can say openly, ‘It’s not an issue with you’,” he told CBC News. “It’s something you can talk about.”
It estimated that nearly one in five youth under the age of 19 experiences a mental, emotional or behavioural issue that is severe enough to seriously affect their daily functioning at home, school or within the community.
CMHA Calgary’s Executive Director Laureen MacNeil told CBC News that the campaign is a great way to shatter the stigma that may keep youth from seeking help.
“If we can start to create more awareness and natural connections wth their own peer group, we know that the chances of them seeking early treatment or having early interventions will be greater,” she said.
The #CHHSLetsTalk campaign runs until January 28, 2015. Share the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to participate.