As students settle into the new norm at school, some may be feeling a little anxious.
It’s a feeling 20-year-old Summer Derksen can relate to. She says being a student at Walter Murray Collegiate came with challenges and was often a time of turmoil.
“I was being cyber bullied and harassed at school. I had a very bad anxiety problem. Having anxiety attacks every day. In Grade 9 and 10, I wasn't passing most of my classes. I didn't even think I would graduate, I thought I would drop out.”
After missing weeks of school because of her anxiety, Derkson's parents turned to Saskatoon's Restorative Action Program, also known as RAP, for help.
“RAP is how we can support kids every day with any issues they may be experiencing. Whether it’s bullying, conflict, cyber bullying, criminal activity. We are there to help them with anything that is stopping them from succeeding and being healthy and safe in our community," says RAP Executive Director, Winston Blake.
The Restorative Action Program is a community initiative offered at nine different high schools across Saskatoon. Since the program began 16 years ago, it has helped thousands of students succeed.
“Mental health is something many young people are dealing with today. Whether it is anxiety, depression or tackling everyday life challenges, RAP is a community iniaitive to help with their relational issues but also teaches them how to deal with these things on their own,” Blake said.
Taking the tools she learned through the RAP program, Derkson not only graduated from Walter Murray Collegiate but is now studying education at the University of Saskatchewan.
She says the program has been invaluable to her - and the relationships she's gained are life-long.
Derksen is sharing her story in hopes of breaking the stigma around mental health struggles and hopes she can inspire others to seek support when they need it.