Jack of Hearts … and Minds

ECF grant enables organization to continue vital mental-health programs through the pandemic

According to Jack, mental health is something everyone should take seriously.

Jack.org is Canada’s only charity training young leaders to revolutionize mental health. The revolution is based around training people to talk to others about mental health and how to overcome some difficulties they may find. But, because of the pandemic, things  had to evolve in order to maintain connections.

“Through our Digital Mental Health Education Program, Jack.org has rapidly pivoted from in-person to virtual programming to ensure that young people in Edmonton have the resources and skills they need to promote positive mental health within their community during these challenging times,” said Jack.org representative Laura Callaghan.

“We’re delivering Virtual Jack Talks (recorded and live-streamed peer-to-peer mental health presentations) to young people in the region to equip them to take care of themselves and each other.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, community-based charities and non-profit organizations have been working tirelessly to provide emergency support of all kinds — in particular to individuals and communities experiencing continued or heightened vulnerability. Demand for their services has increased dramatically.

With COVID-19 having a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations in Canada, The Government of Canada’s $350-million Emergency Community Support Fund aims to help charities and non-profit organizations adapt and increase frontline services for vulnerable populations during the pandemic. Jack.org is one of these organizations.

On June 11, Jack.org received $30,000 through Edmonton Community Foundation’s Emergency Community Support Fund, to expand the organization’s programming into Edmonton.

Together, the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and United Way Centraide Canada are collaborating with the Government of Canada to flow ECSF support to those who need it most right now.

“Mental health concerns are an issue that we keep hearing from staff at non-profit organizations telling us about the experiences of their clients or sharing their own stress and anxiety,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Foundation said. “It’s important that our whole community be aware of mental health always, and especially now.”

And that’s what the grant is helping Jack.org do.

“The (funding) we received has enabled us to devote more time and resources to creating and promoting education and awareness materials,” Callaghan said. “By April 2021, we’ll deliver digital mental health education to over 6,000 young Edmontonians from diverse communities across the city.”

Callaghan added that the organization has been pleasantly surprised by the level of interest it has seen.

“When we began the Digital Mental Health Education Program, we anticipated having 500 young people complete the Personal Edition of the Virtual Jack Talk by April 2021,” Callaghan added. “However, we’ve already exceeded this goal, with 730 people completing the Personal Edition on our website since May.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.