Stop The Stigma Award Winner: In His Own Words

Click here to print this page

A few weeks ago, we shared with you a Globe and Mail story featuring one of the student leaders who volunteers with our Stop The Stigma program. The student, Lorenzo Colocado, received the Louise Russo WAVE Foundation.

We asked Lorenzo to share his experience with Stop The Stigma, and why the issue of mental health is important to him. Here’s what he had to say:

Mood Disorders Association: Why did you decide to be part of the Stop The Stigma planning committee?

Lorenzo: I decided to be part of the Stop the Stigma planning committee because I felt tremendously engaged in the topic and message this campaign stands for. It was an opportunity for me to do something positive for the greater community. I felt so compelled to be part of the movement and to be a voice for young people who are directly and indirectly affected; which in turn, their stories and experiences affected me. This project was something I felt I needed to do to work with others and make a difference.

Mood Disorders Association: What do you think Stop The Stigma is important for high schools to take part in?

Lorenzo: I feel Stop the Stigma is important for high schools to take part in because it’s an opportunity for students to know and learn about mental health issues. This topic goes beyond the curriculum aspect and challenges students to be more knowledgeable, more aware of what surrounds them in life. In high school, generally students are able to retain new information presented to them and at this age of development, they are equipped and start to prepare themselves with the knowledge they need for life after high school. We, as young people, need to be open minded in any situation in such an ever changing society.

Mood Disorders Association: What have you personally learned or gained by taking part in Stop The Stigma?

Lorenzo: By taking part in Stop the Stigma, I’ve grown and matured to be a better man. In an all-male school environment, there’s this stereotypical image of what a man should look like and should be. But because of Stop the Stigma, I am more sensitive and accepting of others no matter who they are or where a person comes from. I am not afraid of speaking up for those who cannot by themselves. I’ve learned beyond the facts and statistics but I’ve developed a stronger human compassion and empathy for others. I’ve learned to never forget the human aspect of things that I take part in.

Mood Disorders Association: What is your personal hope for young people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or another mental illness or addiction?

Lorenzo: My personal hope for young people experiencing mental health issues is not to be afraid of the stigma, to take their experiences day by day to make them stronger individuals. Day by day, I hope they realize they are not alone, that the help they need to overcome it is out there. I hope they realize and feel that the state where mental health was in the past is not the same as it stands today and into the future outlook of it. Together we are breaking down the barriers.