• Bracelets of Hope will offer hand-made bead bracelets in commemoration of National Suicide Prevention Month
    • The event is organized by YouSpoken, a youth group focused on mental health awareness
    • YouSpoken was founded by 16 year-old Stouffville resident and high school student Thivya Jeyapalan
    • They seek input from the community on how mental health can be better prioritized within the Stouffville community
    • Bracelets of Hope will be open in the Leisure Centre lobby from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on September 30

To commemorate National Suicide Prevention Month and honour those lost to suicide, YouSpoken is hosting their Bracelets of Hope event this Saturday in the Stouffville Leisure Centre lobby. The event aims to raise awareness of mental health challenges affecting both youths and adults, and their booth will offer bead bracelets and valuable information, resources, and activities related to mental health.

YouSpoken is a youth organization that encourages the sharing of stories and experiences to increase awareness of mental health traumas and triggers. They also focus on assisting young people dealing with post-traumatic stress syndromes and other mental health anxieties. Thivya Jeyapalan, a 16-year-old high school student and Stouffville resident, serves as the group’s founder and executive director. She recently spoke with Bullet Point News about YouSpoken and the Bracelets of Hope event.

In preparation for Bracelets of Hope, Jeyapalan collaborated with fellow Stouffville students to create over 500 bead bracelets. Aligned with YouSpoken’s commitment to storytelling as a means of expanding awareness and understanding, the group hopes attendees will share their own stories and provide input on how to increase understanding and appreciation of mental health within the Stouffville community. Jeyapalan explained, “We will be giving out the bracelets, and in exchange we ask citizens to tell us what sort of changes they hope to see within the community to make mental health more of a priority.”

Along with her family, Jeyapalan immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in 2009. “With the presence of the Sri Lankan civil war in the region where I was born, I came to realize that PTSD was something very common within my family heritage,” Jeyapalan recalls. “With mental health woes on the rise, it was very unfortunate that PTSD was not talked about—especially with the influx of new refugees coming to Canada.”

“I started YouSpoken as a way for us to open these conversations and start learning more about traumas and triggers, things within our families that may affect who we are and how we feel,” Jeyapalan added. “It’s been a great way for me to connect with Stouffville youth and learn more about their stories and concerns when it comes to mental health.”

YouSpoken offers webinars, group therapy sessions, and a blog where young people from different communities can share their stories, connect with one another, and learn from their experiences. The organization also conducts journaling, art, and music workshops centred around mental health. Jeyapalan underscored, “By integrating interests and emphasizing mental health at a young age, students can acquire new skills, express themselves, and have an opportunity to reflect.”

Readers can learn more about YouSpoken via their Instagram account and website.