Jack Saddleback's voice just got stronger.
The Saskatonian was named a Face of Mental Illness by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH). Saddleback, who is the vice-president of Student Affairs at the University of Saskatchewan, will have the chance to tell his story and struggles with mental health issues through public service announcements aired across the country.
He said the cards were stacked against him growing up transgender on an Alberta First Nation.
"For me, when I was growing up, having to be pushed into this gender identity created a lot of anxiety, depression, and all of those environmental factors of bullying, discrimination, brought about this feeling of isolation," he said, adding that he was diagnosed with severe depression as a teenager.
He overcame adversity and is speaking out. He's urging others to do the same to crush the stigma of mental health issues.
"There's this idea that 'oh, if I talk about it, its just going to get worse,' when in actuality, if you talk about it, it will actually get better," he said. "Because you find there are a lot of support networks out there that come up, when you do talk about your mental health or mental illness."
Saddleback said he hopes to create a conversation with Canadian leaders about the importance of mental health support for youth.
He is one of five Canadians picked to participate in the national campaign.