A Calgary teenager’s Twitter campaign to bring awareness for mental health has raised thousands of dollars and international attention.
Crescent Heights High School student Brett Rothery, 16, launched the #CHHSLetsTalk social media campaign on Jan. 4. The campaign to raise awareness for the Canadian Mental Health Association had an initial limit set by the school — the principal agreed to donate $500 if the hashtag reached 10,000 retweets.
The campaign hit that limit within nine hours and the hastag began trending nationally.
One week later, the hastag has been retweeted more than 100,000 times by people all over the world. Donations started pouring in and local companies began to take notice, pledging more money towards the project.
Calgary-based CSV Midsteam has donated $5,000 dollars to the cause and says if it reaches 200,000 retweets by Jan. 28, the company would double that contribution.
''It's just been inspiring to see so many people sharing their stories and trying to raise awareness with us'' - Brett Rothery
"We think its fantastic that other companies have jumped on board," said Kolby Meyers of CSV Midstream. "That's one of the main reasons why we wanted to get involved with this is that we really wanted to encourage other organizations in the community to get involved."
Another Calgary company, Shane Homes, has also donated $5,000.
The small grassroots movement has now raised over $20,000.
“It's just been inspiring to see so many people sharing their stories and trying to raise awareness with us." said Rothery.
Rothery said that on the third or fourth day, #CHHSLetsTalk was the fifth highest trending hashtag worldwide.
"We got a tweet from North Korea, it was trending in Australia yesterday, almost every country in Europe and South America have joined in on it as well," he said. "It's just spread so far."
Laureen MacNeil, executive director for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for the Calgary region said this campaign has been a real gift which has helped the organization connect with a very important audience.
"The early signs and symptoms of mental health issues show up in the teenage years," she said. "If we can start to create more awareness and natural connections with their own peer group, we know that the chances of them seeking early treatment or having early interventions will be greater."
The CMHA is working closely with the students to determine how the money should be used.
"I can't believe that something that was once just writing in a notepad has just exploded to a worldwide phenomenon,” said Crescent Heights High School student Alanna Hoffert.
The #CHHSLetsTalk campaign runs until Jan. 28.