There has been, and remains, a lot to be said for doing one’s research.
Hannah Heidrich certainly knows that.
Newly arrived at Ottawa’s Carleton University in the fall of 2018, the Psychology major student caught sight of the Cam’s Kids booth at a club exposition. Since Hannah was pressed for time she couldn’t stop to learn more, but she was intrigued. Subsequently doing her research, she logged onto the Cam’s Kids website and read up on the Foundation and its goals, which led her to apply to become a member of the Carleton team.
“The fact that they wanted references…I was really impressed by that,” recalls Hannah, a native of China’s Guangxi province who was adopted at just 10 months old by a Canadian family.
“They wanted to make sure it was taken a bit more seriously (by those applying) than perhaps other clubs. They wanted to know how you feel about mental health and if you have personal stories about it. It was very thorough.”
So, the Sudbury resident began her Cam’s Kids’ journey, initially as an Ambassador and now as a co-Team Lead.
Hannah has clear memories of growing up in an environment “where mental health wasn’t a big thing. All of my classmates wanted to be doctors or nurses. It was as if mental health wasn’t as important as physical health. It was almost as if mental health hadn’t even been invented.”
While admitting to “feeling stressed and really nervous” during her high school years, Hannah says she coped with it…mostly because she had to.
“There weren’t any resources to help with that…we didn’t have anyone to go to,” she says.
That’s far from the case at Carleton where Hannah plays a key role on a very active Cam’s Kids team and collaboration, anchored in a no-idea-is-a-bad-idea approach. This approach is key to the team’s continued success helping anxious students, by making sure they’re aware of an abundance of resources that will help.
“The team leads are super flexible…if you have an idea, they’ll make it work.” says Hannah who, now certified in basic meditation training, will be leading mini sessions as a new Cam’s Kids’ offering for Carleton students.
“It (the Carleton team’s success) is really about great people. Christine is very artsy and creative, and Fatma has tons of ideas. It’s the people that make the team work.”
As is the case at post-secondary institutions across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has served up an added challenge for students who need personal interaction as a key component of their mental wellbeing. With Carleton offering online studies exclusively this fall, the role of Cam’s Kids is magnified. Not to worry, says Hannah. The Carleton team is on it.
“COVID has made us think more outside the box. We’re working on other ideas to do things online and through Zoom; something that keeps people engaged and feel they aren’t alone if they do have an episode. There are still things you can do, and ways you can make friends and interact with your age group.”
A Cam’s Kids veteran, so to speak, Hannah is clearly proud of her involvement, making her thankful she took the time to do her research back in 2018. Not only did she learn more about the Foundation’s mission, but also the “remarkable” back story which led to its formation.
“I’m very impressed with what they (the Hicks family) have done and how they have organized as a national foundation, reducing the stigma (around anxiety) and bringing light to something that was not easy to find light in.”
With the hope of one day becoming a registered psychologist, Hannah says her involvement with Cam’s Kids has proven to be “a match made in heaven” because “it puts the same importance on mental health as I do.”
“Cam’s Kids is a great community to be a part of. There’s a feeling of belonging. I hope other people learn about it. The experience has definitely changed my perspective and given me so much optimism about psychology and mental health.”