Saskatoon mom launches clothing line inspired by daughter's strength in mental health struggle

Amanda Sanderson says there was a phrase that helped her teenage daughter overcome a struggle with mental illness that almost took her life: "Be strong, brave, fearless."

10% of proceeds from Amanda Sanderson's SHB Apparel sales will go toward sending youth, women to healing lodge

Saskatoon models wearing clothing from SHB Apparel. Amanda Sanderson, the creator of SHB Apparel, says she hopes the clothing helps lift spirits and raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. (Amanda Sanderson)

Amanda Sanderson says there was a phrase that helped her teenage daughter overcome a struggle with mental illness that almost took her life: "Be strong, brave, fearless."

"She overcame this devastating time in her life. She blossomed into a beautiful young woman with confidence and self-worth," said Sanderson.

"She gave me the strength to help our youth, women and men who suffer and struggle with suicide, and also those families who lost a loved one."  

A model shows off some SHB Apparel wear. Ten per cent of proceeds from sales of the clothing will go toward sponsoring youth and women to attend a healing retreat. (Amanda Sanderson)

Now Sanderson is using her daughter's motivational phrase, and more submitted by other young people, to help raise money for youth mental health and suicide prevention work.

The Saskatoon woman is fundraising to launch her new company, SHB Apparel, which will consist of a line of clothing items with inspirational and uplifting slogans.

Ten per cent of proceeds from sales of the clothing, and the fundraising campaign to launch the company, will go toward sponsoring youth and women to attend a healing retreat.

Hopeful dreams

Sanderson said the idea came to her in a dream.

"I dreamt of three words: spirit, hope and beauty," said Sanderson.

The quote on this T-shirt comes from a young person who won a Facebook contest held by SHB Apparel, which asked people to submit a quote that helped them through a hard time. (Amanda Sanderson)

"And in this dream I started an apparel business.… I kept dreaming of these words, so I turned to my parents for advice and they told me that I really needed to think about what it meant to me."

At the time, her daughter was going through a difficult period with her mental health.

Sanderson expressed the pride she feels for her daughter's strength and resilience, adding that she is the inspiration for the company.

She said her mom also showed amazing strength to overcome the effects of residential schools, something she feels is a major factor in Saskatchewan's Indigenous suicide rates.  

Youth suicide in Sask.

Earlier this year, Saskatchewan's Advocate for Children and Youth released a report on the issue of youth suicide in the province.

The report found that almost half of the young people who died of suicide in Saskatchewan over the past five years were Indigenous.

The suicide rate among First Nations people in the province is 4.3 times higher than the rate among non-First Nations people.

Sanderson herself is an Indigenous woman from the Saulteaux First Nation.

Proud mom

She hopes to raise a total $50,000 to launch her business, produce the clothing and pay for costs associated with public speaking engagements.

Her goal is to launch the company this summer.

Sanderson said her daughter is pleased she is able to tell her story and raise awareness about mental health.

"She loves the idea and she's just an amazing young woman," she said.

"I'm super proud of her."

SHB Apparel is hosting a Mental Health Matters Rally starting at the Vimy Memorial in Saskatoon at 3 p.m. CST on May 27. 

If you need help

Mental health resources are available through the HealthLine at 811.

The federal government set up a toll-free number for First Nations and Inuit people who are experiencing mental health issues: 1-855-242-3310. 

If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Here are some of the warning signs: 

  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Purposelessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Feeling trapped.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Withdrawal.
  • Anger.
  • Recklessness.
  • Mood changes.