By Megan Rogall
Student - Summerland Secondary School
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to attend the Balancing Our Minds Okanagan conference in Penticton. I had previously been to BOM Vancouver and loved every second of it. The reason I love Balancing Our Minds so much, is because it takes the topic of mental health, and applies it to our everyday lives in ways that we as youth can relate to. I loved how in Vancouver, you got to see just how many people, from all over, were interested in furthering their knowledge on mental health, mental illness, and stigma. In contrast to Vancouver though, the Penticton conference was unique because it was a smaller scale, with just as much impact. I knew most people that attended, so it was very powerful to get to learn more about my own mental health journey as well as others, while being surrounded by the people I am most comfortable with and see on a daily basis.
My mental health journey started, like many people, at a very young age. I had always been a very anxious child, and as I grew into my teenage years, the anxiety deepened and was soon accompanied by depression. When I was 15, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since that point, I have struggled with those mental illnesses worsening, but what I found has been most helpful is knowledge and support. Learning about mental illness and how I can best support myself and others has made me so much stronger. Even today I struggle with my mental health, but I have learned many tools to be able to cope with it through events like these. BOM summits are an incredible tool for spreading word and knowledge of mental health, and both conferences in Vancouver and Penticton made an impact in my life.
Another huge appreciation I had for being able to attend the latest conference in Penticton was for how what we discussed and learned was built off of what I already knew, but also taught me new stuff. With Balancing Our Minds summits, it doesn’t matter whether you know every last detail about mental health, or you have never even heard of it, it is open to everyone and has new opportunities for every person of every age. The Penticton conference encouraged me to learn even more and to engage myself more in the community concerning mental health. It is something I have a passion for talking about, and want to support and teach as many people as possible. The best part is that I am still learning more everyday!