Jack.org Sheridan creates Pause., a postsecondary mental health magazine.
By: Brittany Tapper
When we started up our chapter with Jack.org, a national mental health organization focused on youth, we prepared for the typical types of engagements with the Sheridan community: pop-up events, small partnerships, and maybe a Jack Talk or two. The goal has always been to raise awareness for mental health and the services available to students, but we found it challenging to think beyond those smaller initiatives at first.
So how did we get from that, to the publication of a mental health magazine?
This came first (obviously). In May 2018, I found myself drawn to a wellness magazine that made its presence known amongst a lot of busy, black-and-white lifestyle covers in a grocery store. After skimming through it, I bought it and returned home – enthralled. The feeling of the paper and the soothing visuals that accompanied every well-crafted article spoke to me. I felt relaxed and understood.
We then thought, “could we create something like this, but make it local to Sheridan and focused more from a mental health lens?”
We started explaining our vision to various friends, faculty, and connections around Sheridan (by me, I mean the Jack.org Sheridan co-lead, Ben LeBlanc – I was quite shy about the idea) and were met with a lot of excitement. It showed mental health really is a topic people wanted to explore! This helped us because we were able to speak with leadership in several departments – Program Coordinators, Associate Deans and more – that connected us with students who were willing to be interviewed or write their own stories. This evolved into having over 25 students from multiple programs as well as two faculty writers involved.
The intended impact was to bring mental health to the forefront by sharing real stories straight from our campus communities. We chose print as a way to remind people to take a moment for themselves (hence the name, Pause.) and to have something tangible – because touch is a calming and powerful sense. Even the smell of the paper caught a lot of attention too!
After eight months of work, and a successful fundraising campaign for just under $15,000, we launched Pause. on Bell Let’s Talk day, January 30th, 2019; this allowed us to amplify our conversations in the context of all the other mental health discussions. Over 3,500 copies were printed to be given out across Sheridan’s three campuses. It made sense to get Pause. in front of people when they were thinking about mental health, in the hopes they could sit down and read it in the days or weeks to come.
We learned a lot about creating a huge project involving so many people – and raising a large sum of money – so we wanted to share our tips for working on that next big thing while still balancing your life (because it’s hard!).
Tips for Balancing Large-Scale Projects
Find people who are passionate.
They need to be more than just sympathetic or compassionate about something – it has to go beyond that to make something on a large-scale happen. People involved need to be champions of the project and have intrinsic motivation to see it succeed. We were lucky our good friend Kimberlyn Porter (an Illustration alumna and current Sheridan staff member) came on board to lay out the magazine, work with the printer and illustration students, and really create the brand for Pause. It took hundreds of volunteer hours to make it happen, and the passion was there for it to be published.
Plan before diving (completely) in.
This one may seem self-explanatory, but it was something we learned the hard way. Having never created a magazine, our core team just kept moving ahead with sourcing content. A couple of months in, we ended up in a weird situation because we had basically hit our page limit in terms of articles. We had the tools to plan out the pages, but we didn’t use them until much later. Had we done this earlier we could have had more room for visuals in each article.
If you need money for anything – for us it was the printing costs – do not delay! This was a mistake we made because we waited for so long to have something more polished to generate buy-in. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario, but we really wish we would’ve started fundraising earlier because people believed in Pause. So along with fundraising early, maybe sit down and develop the purpose and let that shine!
There are times where it makes sense for you to do things yourself and others where you need to let someone else take the reins. This was a hard concept for me because I had a personal connection with the project, but there were areas where others had more expertise and I needed to let go. We had Kimberlyn as our Creative Director, an amazing student editor who helped us refine each piece, Ben built relationships and interest among stakeholders, while I focused on communication and project management. There were many components that required a lot of time but working together allowed us to also focus on our schoolwork.
We’ve got some exciting updates for Pause.:
We’ve been approached by the Oakville Public Library to have Pause. at all of their locations.
Pause. is currently being catalogued at Sheridan’s libraries.
We’re creating an exciting new platform – so check out the Pause. Instagram for updates.
And we hope to explore another issue!
Finally, we are looking for executive members for the Chapter, so please check out clubscorner.thessu.ca and find Jack.org Sheridan under Social clubs for more information.
We hope you rock your next big project!
Jack.org Sheridan / Pause. Magazine
Copies of Pause. can be picked up on each Sheridan campus at a Sheridan Student Union office or Centre for Student Success.