Ryerson stands up for mental health with #RamsTalk

Women's hockey team captain Nella Brodett, right, and suicide prevention activist Shayan Yazdanpanah, left, are taking part in this year's #RamsTalk campaign. (Vanessa Francone/Ryersonian Staff)

Women’s hockey team captain Nella Brodett, right, and suicide prevention activist Shayan Yazdanpanah, left, are taking part in this year’s #RamsTalk campaign. (Vanessa Francone/Ryersonian Staff)

The Ryerson Rams and Ryerson’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship are teaming up to take a stand on mental health.

On March 24, every time the #RamsTalk hashtag is tweeted, Brookfield Institute will donate five cents to the mental health organization, Jack.org.

The campaign – a spinoff of the popular #BellLetsTalk campaign – began in 2014 after former Rams women’s hockey team captain, Nella Brodett, was approached by teammate Cassie Sharp to organize a fundraiser for youth mental health.

“One of the girls that (Sharp) played hockey with when she was 14, Daron Richardson, committed suicide,” Brodett said. “It was very sudden, nobody knew why. It was a shock to the minor hockey world, especially for girls.”

Richardson’s parents — her mother Stephanie and her father, former NHL player Luke Richardson — then joined with Daron’s friends and classmates to create the organization Do It For Daron (DIFD), to educate young people about mental health issues.

Sharp brought the idea of #RamsTalk to Brodett to raise money for DIFD.

Brodett took on the project not only to help Sharp, but because she too was struggling in silence with depression.

“When you’re the captain of the team, you have to take care of 23 other girls,” she said. “So I didn’t have time to take care of myself and reflect on my emotions. I was just in a really bad place.”

What Sharp and Brodett thought would be a small campaign – they asked partnering organizations to commit only $186 each – blew up and turned into a national Twitter trend.

“The day of, it just blew up. There were 45,000 tweets, retweets and favourites. We raised $2,250 in our first year,” Brodett said.

In the campaign’s second year, they doubled that number.

Brodett, who graduated last spring, has passed the #RamsTalk torch onto second-year engineering student Shayan Yazdanpanah.

Yazdanpanah got involved in mental health initiatives after his first year at Ryerson, when he was struggling with his own mental health. He began doing talks at local high schools for Jack.org.

Now in its third year, #RamsTalk has a goal of raising $5,000, a target that Yazdanpanah is sure that they can achieve and even continue to build on in the future.

“I want to make sure that this push keeps going, and make sure it gets bigger and bigger every year,” he said.

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