2 who are making a difference for mental health in NC
ALEX PARDUE | DECEMBER 20, 2017
Sophie Jin and Abby Roussin are making a difference in the local community when it comes to mental health advocacy and action.
The two juniors from East Chapel Hill High School were honored at this year’s ninth annual North Carolina “One Community in Recovery” conference Nov. 9 in Clemmons, N.C.
Jin and Roussin are the first recipients of the Youth/Young Adult Voice Award, which recognizes individuals under 22 who have dedicated their talents, whether through sharing their story, advocacy or volunteering, to promote mental health and/or substance-use recovery and resilience.
The “One Community in Recovery” conference is fostering the continuing growth of the North Carolina recovery movement by inspiring and informing participants to get recovery programming up and running in their communities, showcasing recovery practices, and bringing providers and individuals in recovery together as students and partners. The goal of the conference is to educate and motivate participants to apply principles of recovery in their personal and professional lives.
Faith Connections on Mental Illness (FCoMI), a local nonprofit that works with all faith communities to support individuals and families living with mental illness, is a proud supporter of the conference.
“For me to have been recognized at this year’s conference and receive the Youth/Young Adult Voice Award, it means that they gave me the ability to have a voice because they were there to hear it,” said Roussin, who has performed in several school plays. “The award has motivated us to go further and reach more people in our advocacy for mental illness,” said Jin, a member of numerous public speaking clubs including Model United Nations and DECA. “Speaking out not only motivates others, but also establishes a community of support and bravery.”
The duo began attending Mental Health Community Connections (MHCC) meetings in 2016 where they listened to teachers, counselors, and psychologists discuss ways to make learning environments more inclusive for those with mental health problems. Jin and Roussin recognized the prevalent stigma within schools and presented on the topic at this year’s FCoMI Conference. They sparked urgency over the topic amongst teachers and administrators who had failed to realize the level of disconnect in communication when addressing mental health issues for students.
Jin hopes to study economics in college, and is particularly interested in examining fiscal interactions between diverse countries. Roussin is strongly considering studying and performing social work in the future. The two plan to continue collaborating with fellow students and community members to address specific mental health issues that are often overlooked and/or misunderstood.
FCoMI will host the “Cultivating Mental Health: Hope and Healing” Conference on April 13, 2018, a daylong event addressing how individuals and their families can experience hope and healing while managing depression and addiction. Additionally, speakers will explain faith communities’ role in supporting those living with mental health challenges, and facilitate solutions for those with serious mental health conditions.