Young Torontonians partner with CAMH to talk mental health

Two young women are using social media to fight the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Meghan Yuri Young and Vasiliki Marapas, co-founders of the Sad Collective, want people to open up

Vasiliki Marapas, left, and Meghan Yuri Young have brought together more than 1,500 followers on Instagram to talk about mental health. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

In just a year, the online project created by Meghan Yuri Young and Vasiliki Marapas, dubbed the Sad Collective, has connected more than 1,500 followers on Instagram, allowing them to share stories about.their struggles with mental health. 

"I started wondering why it's so taboo to admit you're struggling," Marapas, 25, told CBC Toronto. "Why shouldn't it be okay to say, 'I'm not okay'?"

The women wanted to open up the conversation on mental health, whether it's the fallout from a breakup or clinical mental illnesses. 

"It really does show we're not the only ones struggling," said Young, 32. "It's really encouraging. We started this from our own place of being down on ourselves and see we're not alone. It really is heartwarming and rewarding." 

When she started the social media project, Young was going through a divorce while Marapas was also looking for direction in life. Through the project, the women wanted to bring together people from a range of experiences. 

"Not everyone suffers from mental illness but everyone has mental health," said Marapas. "It spans so many ways. Heartbreak is just one end of the spectrum."

Partners with CAMH

The Sad Collective has now partnered with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) on its campaign, One Brave Night, asking Canadians to raise funds and raise awareness to support people living with mental illness. 

With smartphones being virtually ubiquitous especially among young people, clinical psychologist Katy Kamkar says moments like Wednesday's can prompt discussion around mental health and normalize the conversation. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

"Any tool that helps us increase knowledge and awareness and further reduce the stigma attached to mental illness is essential," said Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist with CAMH. "Social media has been a great tool to spread the knowledge."

The Sad Collective blog has featured conversations with people from across the Greater Toronto Area, from restaurant owners to young people dealing with depression. 

The women hope their work with CAMH will connect more Canadians.