Sudbury

Rainbow District School Board hosting 'Headstrong' summit for mental health

The Rainbow District School Board is hosting a summit on Thursday to educate students about mental health, and hopefully inspire people to come forward either for themselves, or someone who may be suffering.

One-day summit hosted by RDSB hopes to plant seed of hope, optimism in struggling kids

The RDSB is hosting a symposium to help kids recognize signs and symptoms of mental health problems. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The Rainbow District School Board is hosting a summit on Thursday to educate students about mental health, and hopefully inspire people to come forward either for themselves, or someone who may be suffering.

"Headstrong," will bring together 100 students from the RDSB, Sudbury Catholic District School Board, Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l'Ontario, Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario and the Wikwemikong Board of Education.

One of the speakers attending the conference is Megan Potestio, a Toronto-based mental health worker. Potestio suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, stress and depression as an adolescent.

Potestio spoke with CBC's Morning North about her high school years.

"For me, [high school] was a hard experience," Potestio said. "Some see it as the best time of their life. For me it was definitely not."

Potestio said she began using marijuana as a way to cope with stress. But that led to more troubles at school.

"I missed a lot of classes because a lot of my symptoms with mental illness were beginning to come around," she said. "At times it was overwhelming to go to school and face that many people, so I chose not to instead."

She eventually attempted suicide. But the ensuing admission into hospital turned things around for Potestio.

"My hospital stay gave me the tools I needed to confront my past and move on," she said. "Since then, part of my recovery has been telling my story of recovery to youth and educators across Canada to give hope to others across Canada."

Since 2004, Potestio has dedicated her time to sharing her story with Canadian youth, and advocating for early intervention in children's mental health services.

The hardest part is recognizing their is a problem, and then having the courage to step forward, she said.

"Just making that one connection or planting the seed of hope in their head makes it all worthwhile," she said.

Click the audio link below to hear the full interview with Megan Potestio.

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