My Design Lab Experience |

Teen mental health has always been a topic I’ve felt passionate about. Being a youth who has experienced the ups and downs of growing up while carrying the burden of mental illness, I’ve always felt drawn to this complicated issue. I’ve seen how the struggles and stresses of everyday life affect a teenager’s mind. I see it in strangers, in my friends, and even in myself. Even though modern society has made great progress in accommodating those coping with mental health issues, we still have a very long way to go in terms of truly supporting and empathizing with the struggling members of society. I always wanted to help in some way, but when you’re simply a single person, it can feel as though your contributions mean very little in the long run. I was just one person, what could I do? And that’s when I learned about this incredible opportunity. 

I heard about this volunteer opening through one of my art teachers. She used to work at mindyourmind and encouraged us to sign up for this design lab. So, I decided to give it a try.  I initially had low expectations, I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case I wasn’t picked, and even if I was chosen, I had very little idea of what would even occur at the design lab. As someone with anxiety, this all felt like a huge risk for me. But in the end, I’m so happy that I decided to take that risk and sign up. 

On our first scheduled meeting, I was feeling a bit nervous, after all, I had no idea what to expect from this type of experience. But I was pleasantly surprised when I finally met the rest of the design group! They were all such smart, unique individuals! And when it came time to actually design our project, we found that we all worked exceptionally well together! We were able to come to decisions and specific design choices very quickly and our decisions aligned. Owing to our collaboration, the final product is a collection of all our ideas and we created a great product we are all proud of!

Our finished piece is a Zine promoting a mental health program titled “BounceBack,” which offers free mental health coaching for youths from ages 15 to 17. This zine was a pure labour of love from the design lab volunteers and the mindyourmind employees. We sincerely hope our hard work paid off and that this zine piece helps youths from all across Ontario! 

Teen mental health is something I’ve always had a passion for but felt that I, alone could not make a positive impact in the world. But, after this new experience, I’ve finally realized that when people come together, we can achieve great things and inspire others to do the same. And just maybe, this zine will inspire at least one youth to reach out and get help, and that’s all I could ever ask for. 

Sincerely, Marina. 

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