2020 ANNUAL REPORT
July 2019 - June 2020
Founder & Executive Director, Jack.org
Dear friends and supporters of Jack.org,
During the first act of the 2020 fiscal year, Jack.org’s board and staff, along with our Network Liaisons, Network Representatives, and young leaders across the country, were making long-term plans for the future. Specifically, we were writing our second 5-year strategic plan. Those plans were driven by a simple objective: to respond to the needs of young people across the country and ensure they have engaging and effective mental health education and access to the support they need and deserve.
A few short weeks into that plan’s execution, COVID hit. Instead of making sense of the next five years, we were suddenly making sense of the next few days, weeks, and months.
All of you reading this will have gone through some version of the same thing: a major, overnight adjustment. And in that adjustment, I think many of us have felt how truly important our mental health is. The pandemic has been a powerful accelerator of the youth mental health movement, forcing many of us to contend with the fact that we are in the midst of a youth mental health crisis and have been for years. Reckoning with this can be challenging work. But the good news is that we’re seeing the initial signs of the prioritization of youth mental health on a national scale. And we’ve been working tirelessly to ensure this momentum does not slip and that out of these hard times comes historic change.
Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum and neither can its organizations. Our work must be in direct response to the voices of our young leaders and the realities they face as young people in Canada. Throughout this report, we identify how each Jack.org program has been designed and redesigned in response to these realities. The growing discussion around equity, diversity and inclusion is an important example, encouraging us to hold a mirror to ourselves and evaluate how we can do more and do better for Canada's youth who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour. Much of our work is - and should be - the learning required of us to build a truly inclusive movement.
The job ahead of us is enormous. And Jack.org has a critical role to play. Our young leaders also have a key role to play. In fact, we all have a role to play. And none of us should take this responsibility lightly.
I’m so proud of how the Jack.org staff and young leaders have rallied this past year. They’ve supported one another, challenged each other, pushed us further, responded to the shifting realities that young people are facing to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to take care of their mental health and look out for each other. They have worked tirelessly to fill gaps in the mental health system wherever they could. As a result of their efforts, this country is better off; more supportive, more empathetic, and more knowledgeable about how to access and provide mental health support. But to quote our Virtual Jack Summit this past year... we’re not done yet! We have miles to go. And if anyone can make the journey, it’s this staff, this network of young leaders, and this community of supporters and donors.
Thank you for your unending efforts and support for youth mental health and for navigating this challenging time with us, hand in hand. Sending my love and gratitude.
Founder & Executive Director, Jack.org
Letter from Network Liaisons
Jack.org's Network Liaisons represent our network of over 3,000 young leaders at the board level. They attend quarterly board meetings and ensure that youth voices are at the core of Jack.org decision making.
Jess is a Family Studies and Psychology grad from the University of Windsor where she co-founded and was the co-lead of the Jack Chapter, which was created to change the culture around mental health on her campus. She became a Jack Talks speaker to showcase her passion for ensuring young people are talking about mental health. Jess also served as one of 13 national Network Reps for Jack.org.
Having graduated, Jess has been working in the non-profit sector for about 6 years and currently works at United Way Windsor-Essex managing their Donor Stewardship and Engagement Program. She has served as an inaugural youth Network Liaison at Jack.org board meetings. Jess has also served as an executive board member for the International Association of Youth Mental Health, the largest global association of youth mental health organizations.
Dan first joined Jack.org in 2016 as a Talks Speaker prior to leading the University of Toronto Jack Chapter and serving as a 2017-18 national Network Representative for Jack.org. He's currently a first-year law student at Western University and holds a BSc and MSc in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto. After years of striving towards a medical career, Dan’s advocacy work with Jack.org (and some serious soul-searching) led to the realization that he really wanted a career where he could contribute to improving Canadian healthcare at a systems-level. Dan has served as an inaugural youth Network Liaison at Jack.org board meetings.
In the words of Jess and Dan
The world today is very different than it was this time last year. Events around the world have changed our lives in profound ways, and youth have been heavily impacted. Young people across the country had to abruptly finish their school semester, lost connection to friends and support systems, and experienced feelings of isolation and unrest about the world around them. But amidst it all, they remained dedicated to the mental health movement in this country. They showed up.
They showed up to the Virtual Jack Summit to share mental health advocacy strategies and build connections with one another. They made a change in their communities by sharing mental health resources and supporting their friends. They met with the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion, and Youth, Bardish Chagger, to discuss how the federal government can support youth mental health at this challenging time. They shared their stories and talked about community-specific needs to help bridge gaps in mental health education. Despite everything around them slowing down, our young leaders continued to push their work forward.
There is still so much to do to ensure that young people have the skills and knowledge to take care of themselves and each other and to ensure adequate and accessible services for everyone in this country. If this year has reinforced anything, it is that young people are ready to do the work to help make that happen.
We have so much to be proud of this year; for how far we have come, and for the way in which we are continuing to move forward. Our role in the mental health movement in Canada is critical. The voices of our young leaders are critical. The work we do to create a more empathetic and understanding Canada is critical. Now more than ever, our work must march forward.
Jess Fazio and Dan Derkach
Network Liaisons, Jack.org
Meet the 2019-20 Network Representatives
The Network Rep program empowers 13 young leaders to represent their region. They’re chosen from hundreds of applicants and work closely with Jack.org staff to move our programs forward. Below are just some highlights from their work throughout the 2020 fiscal year.
Researched ways to adapt the Jack Talk for Northern regions of Canada and Indigenous communities.
Led a project to connect more rural youth in Nova Scotia with Jack.org programs and mental health resources.
Led conversations on men's mental health through social media engagement and through an op-ed on the relationship between masculinity and mental health.
Worked with Jack.org to bring environmentally-friendly best practices into our Summit program.
Represented the network on the planning teams for Brainfreeze and Jack Music.
Partnered with local organizations to promote mental health awareness and bring Jack.org programming to Nunavut.
Started the only Yukon Jack Chapter and worked with campus administrators to bring mental health resources to faculty and staff.
Founded a community Jack Chapter in Woodbridge and worked to make our Campus Assessment Tool relevant to communities, not just schools.
Researched and sourced additional resources for the Jack.org website and wrote an op-ed on the need for a suicide prevention plan on campuses.
Completed the Campus Assessment Tool for UPEI to better understand and advocate for the specific mental health needs of students on her campus.
Helped to coordinate and appeared in the national PSA for Bell Let’s Talk featuring Jack.org.
Alex San Diego
Led conversations about men's mental health through an op-ed and social media.
Spear-headed French translations and worked to make Jack.org programs relevant in francophone communities.
A NOTE ON COVID-19
By the time COVID-19 hit, we were nine months into our fiscal year. So throughout this report, we’ll be showing you our pre-COVID impact, and then how we have adapted our programs to COVID and the outcomes of those changes.
Shortly after lockdown started, we sent a Needs Assessment survey to our national network of young leaders. Their message was strong. They needed:
Community and connection
Educational self-care and peer support resources in digital formats that were easily accessible in isolation
Skill-building resources and training to shift their advocacy and mental health education work online
Jack.org staff acted quickly, building workshops, content, resource hubs, and tools that Canada's young people could access in lockdown. That work is reflected throughout this report.
A NOTE ON EQUITY
The necessary amplification and intensification of conversations surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion happening across the world have caused us to ask tough questions about our role as an organization and have led to hard conversations about our work with equity-seeking groups and where we've come up short. Though a lot of this work has happened outside the time frame covered by this report, we wanted to use this opportunity to remind you of our commitments to equity, diversity and inclusion and provide some updates.
Commitment #1: Elevate and amplify the voices of Black and Indigenous youth in our network in a way that does not tokenize or place a burden on them, while also committing to greater representation of all racialized youth.
Update: Several feedback sessions led us to adopt a strength-based approach to storytelling and to introduce new relationship-building practices to engage diverse youth in our network.
Commitment #2: Address equity gaps in our practices, including sourcing an expert external consultant/facilitator to help Jack.org define our long-term commitment to equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
Update: We conducted a thorough search for an external facilitator who interviewed staff and stakeholders and will be making a series of recommendations.
Commitment #3: Contribute to this national conversation in French as well as in English.
Update: We've increased francophone capacity on our staff, including two staff based in Quebec. We’ve also increased our bilingual programs offerings, including Do Something and the Virtual Jack Talk.
Of course, this is just the start. This is a long journey, and we will continue to learn and iterate to create more inclusive and equitable programs, and use our influence to create a country that has accessible and appropriate mental health support for all young people and the diverse communities they represent. We're energized by the opportunity to do more and do better. To build a stronger, more inclusive community. Today and always.
The Jack Talk was designed in response to two key insights:
Young people want to learn about mental health from other young people whose lives and experiences they can relate to. This peer-to-peer approach is known to be the most effective way to deliver this critical education.
Increasing mental health education is one of the most effective ways of building resilient, supportive communities. It also has a great impact on unburdening the more costly balance of the mental health system.
So the Jack Talk program trains young people to use their own mental health stories to deliver educational presentations to their peers in a safe and hopeful way.
(July 2019 - March 2020)
Jack Talk speakers delivered
in-person Jack Talks to
of them said they learned useful information about mental health, and
said they learned where to get help for mental health if they need it.
(March 2020 - June 2020)
new editions of the Virtual Jack Talk were launched and offered to schools, communities, and individuals for free.
Virtual Talks were delivered to
participants across the country.
"The preSentations were awesome!
I asked students to tell me what they thought of the presentations and whether I should show them to other classes in the future. 100% of students said the presentations were useful and important."
- Anne Thomson, Orangeville District
IN RESPONSE TO THE VIRTUAL JACK TALK
The Jack Chapter program was designed in response to two key insights:
Young people are experts of their own mental health experiences. With the proper training, they are uniquely positioned to be able to identify barriers to positive mental health for themselves and the young people in their communities.
No two communities are exactly alike. That means mental health promotion needs to look different for each individual community. Jack.org is constantly striving to expand and adapt programming to best serve all communities, especially those that are diverse and underserved.
So the Jack Chapter program was designed to give young leaders the training and tools they need to design their own initiatives to improve youth mental health in their communities.
(July 2019 - March 2020)
active Jack Chapters across every province and territory undertook
initiatives that started
mental health conversations with their peers.
(March 2020 - June 2020)
In the absence of in-person initiatives, digital meet-ups brought Chapter members together to connect, share ,and collaborate.
Staff sent out a regular communication to all Chapters in their region to provide updates and check-in with members.
Chapters used their social media platforms to educate, engage, and inspire their communities including self-care tips, Instagram quizzes about Be There’s Five Golden Rules, and mental health initiatives hosted on Instagram Live.
Jack Summits exist in response to two key insights:
Advocacy is hard, and young leaders need to connect with like-minded peers to lean on one another, learn from each other, and chart the path forward together.
Mental health looks different from region to region all across Canada.
To address these insights, the Jack Summit program works with young leaders to design programming that directly addresses their regional needs. Jack Summits bring young mental health advocates together as community groups at the local, regional, and national level all across Canada.
Over the past year, we've been sending video crews to every Regional Jack Summit to interview young leaders about the specific needs and barriers of their regions. We've captured voices from MTL au Sommet (our Summit for francophone youth), Breaking Barriers (Winnipeg and the surrounding region), Talk at the Top (Vancouver and the surrounding region), Atlantic Jack Summit (the Atlantic provinces), and Northern Jack Summit (the territories).
We've made huge strides for mental health, but we're #NotDoneYet. It's never been more important for Canada's young mental health advocates to be getting together and getting to work.