Hi, my name is Sterling, I am first-year chemistry and psychology joint major at Trent University. I am an established mental health advocate at my university and beyond. I am a proud member of the Patient Advisory and Recovery Committee (PARC) at Ontario Shores Center for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores).
I have always battled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. In grade 8 when I was 13 years old, I began to develop Anorexia Nervosa. This got drastically worse throughout the school year and I was eventually admitted to SickKids Hospital. This began a 4-year cycle of hospital admissions and outpatient treatment.
During my last and longest admission to SickKids in grade 12, I even applied to university while on a hospital bed. I was waitlisted for Ontario Shores during this hospital admission and admitted to Ontario Shores in February of that year. One month into my treatment at Ontario Shores, the COVID-19 pandemic struck meaning I needed to go home and receive virtual treatment.
Ontario is in crisis.
This is not a controversial statement by any means as reports of residents of our province lining up in hot spots in Toronto and Peel Region for an opportunity to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine have been widespread. The images of people lined up around tracks and football fields to access a form of healthcare is not something we are accustomed to in Canada.
Vaccines are an important tool to help move us out of the pandemic and toward some semblance of our normal lives.
I began volunteering at Ontario Shores nine years after overcoming a very difficult period in my life: my father’s suicide. I decided that following his tragedy, this would be a great way to give back to others struggling with mental illness.
My father was the type of man who would never ask for help, but would take his shirt off his back for a stranger. He was always so caring, compassionate and giving. His tragic death inspired me to help others and give back to the community.