Skip to main content

Youth lift the veil of stigma around mental health at ‘Talk at the Top’

North Vancouver, BC – High school students are lifting the veil of stigma surrounding mental health at a youth-led summit this weekend at Grouse Mountain.
Vancouver Coastal Health, Bell Canada, and the Canadian Mental Health Association are sponsoring the Talk at the Top summit, where students from nearly 20 schools from Pemberton to Deep Cove are conversing and committing to initiatives they can take to their schools and communities in advance of National Child and Youth Mental Health Day in May.
This is a free event designed to create a safe environment where youth leaders can gather in collaboration with community and service providers to strategically plan and develop actions aimed at reducing stigmas associated with mental illness and young people.
In its fourth year, the summit has expanded its programming, kicking off Saturday, January 23 with a concert at the City of North Vancouver Atrium. On Sunday delegates will gather at Grouse Mountain.
Speakers include Sophie Moggridge, a third-year University of Victoria student with; Bryce Evans, the founder of The One Project, a photography community for people with depression and anxiety; and youth leaders Nolan Querns and Lily Diamond, who will lead question-and-answer sessions on the intersection of mental health and Asperger’s, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder/Depression/Stigma, respectively.
The summit concludes with a youth-led discussion on approaches to prevent and confront mental health slurs, and the establishment of personal, school and community initiatives.


“Youth are instrumental in creating an atmosphere of understanding among their peers. I’m proud to see the very real issues of mental health being so directly approached by these young leaders. It’s time to take mental health concerns out of the shadows and into the light.”
Health Minister Terry Lake
“Talk at the Top brings together students in the Lower Mainland to discuss the very real and growing issue of mental health among young British Columbians. Gatherings like this one allow youth to share their thoughts and feelings about a topic that has a very real effect, whether on them personally, or on their friends and loved ones.”
Jane Thornthwaite
Parliamentary Secretary
Child Mental Health and Anti-Bullying
“This is an inspirational few days of speakers, music, adventure, dialogue and leadership,” says Kerrie Watt, Alcohol and Drug Prevention Educator at VCH. “It is more than mental health awareness; it’s about broadening young people’s exposure to the issue by facilitating safe and judgment-free spaces for dialogue, and developing youth-led initiatives that are taken back to our communities.”
Kerrie Watt
Alcohol and Drug Prevention Educator
Vancouver Coastal Health
“Change is happening and it’s happening through the voices of our youth,” says Sandra Severs, Executive Director at Canadian Mental Health Association-North and West Vancouver Branch. “Talk at the Top is an important event for youth from across the North Shore and the Sea to Sky corridor, enabling open conversations about mental health. I have seen leaders emerge from this gathering and become strong advocates who speak out against stigma.”
Sandra Severs
Executive Director
Canadian Mental Health Association, North and West Vancouver Branch
“For the past three years, Talk at the Top has been an exceptional opportunity for North Shore youth to join the conversation on mental health, while working together to make an impact in their schools and their communities,” says Loring Phinney, Vice President, Corporate Marketing at Bell Canada. “We’re inspired to hear their ideas on reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and consider it a wonderful extension of our Bell Let’s Talk initiative.”
Loring Phinney
Vice President, Corporate Marketing
Bell Canada
“This is an amazing vehicle where youth feel empowered to create unique initiatives each year,” says Deborah Maguire Tucker, Co-founder of Talk at the Top. “Since our son Owen lost his struggle with mental illness five years ago, the way we think and communicate about mental health and wellness in our community, particularly surrounding young people, has significantly changed – and it's our youth who are driving that shift by creating environments where hope can be found.”
Deborah Maguire Tucker
Talk at the Top
“Being involved with Talk at the Top has allowed me to increase my exposure to a new and dynamic environment revolving around mental health. Through Talk at the Top I have been given the opportunity to advocate for a cause extremely close to my heart.”
Zohrah Kahlili
Talk at the Top participant


About Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH)

VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. Find us online

About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience and support recovery from mental illness. On the North Shore, the branch is involved in employment services, education, homeless outreach, supportive housing, the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre and HOpe Café (HOpe Centre), peer support, youth work, telephone coaching and individual counselling. For more information, please go to 

About Bell

Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing a comprehensive and innovative suite of broadband communication services to residential and business customers under the Bell Canada and Bell Aliant brands. Bell Media is Canada's premier multimedia company. It has assets in television, radio, out of home and digital media, including CTV, Canada's #1 television network, and the country's most-watched specialty channels. To learn more, please visit
The Bell Let's Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns, like Bell Let's Talk Day on January 27, and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit


Media is invited to attend any part of the summit on Sunday. There will be a snowshoe scavenger hunt, and an indoor art project led by artmania that are both taking place from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Media should email Tiffany Akins to register and to receive a Skyride (gondola) code.

Tiffany Akins
Communications leader (Friday)                                            
Vancouver Coastal Health
Phone: 604-708-5281
Cell: 604-319-7530

Gavin Wilson
Communications director (Saturday, Sunday)           
Vancouver Coastal Health
Phone: 604-708-5312
Cell: 604-319-7532
SOURCE: Youth lift the veil of stigma around mental health at ‘Talk at the Top’ ( )
Page printed:

Copyright © Vancouver Coastal Health. All Rights Reserved.