Alumni Spotlight

Jake Bradshaw ’16 is on a mission: to alleviate any stigma about mental illness and to improve access to mental health services.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

During my time at UCC, I was very involved with theatre and the volleyball team. I went to Queen’s University and studied politics, philosophy and economics. During my second year, I took a semester off because I was struggling with my mental health. Ever since then, I’ve been working in the mental health space as an advocate, community organizer and speaker. I now work at Greenspace Mental Health, helping to improve access to mental health supports and services for post-secondary students across Canada. 

Were you always passionate about mental health advocacy?

My passion for mental health really started when I took my semester off. I decided to share my experience publicly, because I wanted to fight the stigma around mental health. I was amazed at the hundreds of messages I got from friends, family members and people I didn’t even know who said that my experience resonated with them. This made me realize how common mental illness is. From that point onwards, I made it my personal mission to alleviate the stigma around mental illness and improve access to care. 
What's the most rewarding aspect of your work?

The most rewarding part about working in the mental health space is being able to support and provide hope to others who are struggling.

What's something that you hope to see change for the youth community in the future with regards to mental health, awareness and advocacy?

We’ve made a lot of progress when it comes to reducing the stigma around mental health, and this has led to an increase in demand for services. Now we need to focus on improving access to high-quality mental health care, especially for communities that aren’t able to afford therapy. 

What's something you wish you could tell your UCC self?

When I was at UCC, I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. Going to a boys’ school wasn’t always easy for me, because I felt like I didn’t fit the mould. So, I would like to be able to tell myself to focus less on what other people think and say about me. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? What advice would you give to current students? 

The best advice I’ve ever received is to trust my gut. There is so much advice out there about how to find your path, and a lot of it is conflicting. I find a lot of comfort in the idea that each of us knows what’s best for ourselves. We’re all unique; we come from different backgrounds and life experiences and we have different values. My advice is to listen to your heart and have the courage to do what feels right to you.
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