Claire Leighton Champions Mental Health Education through Internship at Canadian Mental Health Association
When second-year STUdent Claire Leighton was at the beginning of her mental health journey, she found great comfort in learning about mental health and the resources and programs available to her.
Now, almost 10 years later, she’s working to create, promote, and champion those resources as an intern at the Canadian Mental Health Association.
“When I was first going through my mental health journey, the initial learning stage was the most important part and it made a big difference in my life,” Leighton said.
The Canadian Mental Health Association is an education-based organization that aims to foster positive mental health for all by providing advocacy, programming, and resources to help prevent mental illness, develop resilience, and support recovery. With her own mental health experience, Leighton was hoping to get involved and support the organization in some capacity and this internship presented the perfect opportunity.
“I was so enthusiastic about this position,” she said. “I hope to go on to work on mental health programs in public schools to try and implement more mental health awareness and training, so this internship really aligned with what I want to do.”
Leighton, who is studying Psychology, has been fortunate to work on a number of different projects for the Canadian Mental Health Association. She’s helped prepare pamphlets and educational material, assisted with program presentations, and connected with local doctors to lay the foundation for a working relationship between their practice and the organization. She also had the opportunity to develop a health program on resilience.
“Care takers, parents, and the school system are looking into resilience, so they came to us to build some resources for it,” she said. “Using pre-existing resources, as well as my own research and interpretation, I put together a program with a facilitator that had three different versions—one for young people, another for parents, and another that addresses building resilience in seniors.”
The internship has also allowed Leighton to develop skills in professionalism and learn through experience in the workplace.
“It’s been a really good opportunity to learn the ropes of working in a real office but still have the support from STU and my supervisors. It’s filling the gap between university and my career,” she said. “I’m learning those nitty gritty skills like how to address someone in an email or how to solidify branding. I’m getting a really well-rounded experience.”
Making connections in her field and gaining practical experience has been invaluable for Leighton, but her main goal is to continue to promote the work the organization is doing so those who need help know where they can find it.
“The Canadian Mental Health Association is addressing such an important issue and their programs are an incredible resource. A lot of different outreach for mental health is expensive and inaccessible but the Canadian Mental Health Association programs are free,” she said. “I just want people to be aware of the services and know they can access them at no cost.”
To learn more about the Canadian Mental Health Association and its programming, visit https://cmhanb.ca/programs-services/