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All In for Mental Health

January is the time of year in our household where we talk a lot about mental health. This coin has already helped us start conversations with our boys about goals and gratitude, strengths and sacrifice. The language may be simple. The ideas are not.

The Project All In coin was designed to start tough conversations between first responders and frontline workers.
The Project All In coin was designed to start tough conversations between first responders and frontline workers.

I am currently participating in Quietly Loud, a 3 month photography workshop with two of my favourite Canadian photographers Kristine Nyborg and Felicia Chang. Our third assignment involved marrying words and photographs. This is one of the things I love to do, but it sometimes gets pushed aside for other priorities. What I love about this workshop is that it reminds me to take the time to do this. To make time for words.

For this assignment I chose to photograph this coin created by Chad Guenter, a Canmore area firefighter and founder of Project All In. The coin was designed to start tough conversations between first responders and frontline workers. I chose to photograph this coin in honour of my dad. A cardiologist who wasn’t able to ask for help.

I started out by thinking about the 5 Ws
Who: Maverick, Kane, Harrison, Brendan, Grandad
What: Project All In’s mental health coin
Where: accessible
When: as needed
Why: start mental health conversations

The debrief side of the Project All In coin depicts a bison and says "Goals, Gratitudes, Strength, Sacrifice"
The debrief side of the Project All In coin depicts a bison and says “Goals, Gratitudes, Strength, Sacrifice”

And then the story pours out…

Maverick never met his granddad. My father died by suicide when Maverick was just two months old.

We may not be ready yet to explain suicide to a seven year old, but we do talk about mental health. We talk about goals and gratitude, strengths and sacrifice. It may sound a little different with our kids; it may be more about what went well and how to solve a problem, but introducing tough topics to kids is important.

The Maple Leaf side of the Project All In coin is understood as an ask for help.
The Maple Leaf side of the Project All In coin is understood as an ask for help.

Before sending this Project All In coin to my brother, another frontline worker, we talked about asking for help when you need it. Maybe you just need to talk through a problem or maybe it’s about seeking help from a professional. I want my kids to know it’s okay to ask for help. I want them to know how to truly see their people. I want them to be brave and vulnerable and make it okay for others too. 

It takes courage to ask for help.
No matter how old you are.
Reach out.
I’m here.

To learn more about Project All In, to support their program, or to book a presentation please visit their website projectallin.ca

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