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ISC sponsors the Saskatchewan Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Friend for Life program

December 11, 2012

Raising awareness about mental health is important to Shawn Peters, VP of Finance and Technology and CFO. Through ISC’s Community Investment program each member of the executive has the opportunity to sponsor a program or organization important to them, personally or professionally. Shawn has chosen to support the Saskatchewan Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Friends for Life program.

Mental health problems come in all shapes and forms, affecting people daily in a range of different ways. Shawn’s sister, Audra, battled mental health issues for a number of years. “It was very tough on her,” says Shawn, “and it was also very tough on all of us who were trying to support her through it.”

Shawn’s sister began to have difficulties in school. Bullying was a persistent problem, and it’s something that had lasting effects. What started for her as a child continued into adulthood developing into serious mental health problems, ultimately resulting in Audra taking her own life. 

 “My sister’s experience has made me more cognisant of other people’s realities,” says Shawn. “It is important to realize that people have other things going on their lives. If someone seems out of sorts, or is acting out of character, there is a reason for it.”

“Don’t underestimate the power that mental health issues can have over an individual or over a family,” says Shawn.  “For anyone who is experiencing mental health problems I urge you to reach out to your family or community. ISC’s EFAP program is another great resource to help you achieve balance in your life.”

Bullying

Bullying has had a profound and lasting effect on Shawn’s family. It’s made Shawn much more sensitive to his kids, especially with the new potential for online bullying. “It’s important to communicate openly with your kids. By staying involved and talking about it you can make sure your kids aren’t experiencing it, or participating in bullying.” Thankfully Shawn’s sons, Stephen, 13, and Justin, 8, haven’t had troubles with bullies; however that hasn’t been the case for some of their friends.

“My wife Kim and I try to help our boys help their friends,” says Shawn. “It’s important for them to understand the issues and to support their friends through it. We encourage them to build a network of support for each other.”

Friends for Life

The Friends for Life program works in communities across the province to develop a sense of self-esteem in students; to provide information on how to stop bullying; to provide strategies to lower stress in the workplace; and to provide knowledge and change attitudes surrounding mental illness, all of which help to prevent suicide. For more information on the Friends for Life program visit the Canadian Mental Health Assocaition's Saskatchewan Division website.

“Friends for Life is a really cool program,” says Shawn. “It means a lot to me to have the opportunity to raise awareness about mental health.”

ISC fosters a culture of giving across the province and, through its Community Investment program, ISC contributes 1.5 per cent of net income to support non-profit organizations, community initiatives and diversity programs across the province. For more information on the Community Investment program visit www.isc.ca/communityinvestment.


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