Delia Xenophontos is an aspiring psychiatrist working towards making a difference in the lives of her future patients, of students across Canada and in herself. With a history of mental illness, Delia knows first-hand the improvements that need to be made to care and treatment.
She is now actively working to make mental health care more accessible for everyone by launching an initiative called Mental Health Talks, giving Canadians from coast to coast the opportunity to hear from professionals and those who live, breath and work mental health.
As we get close to the end of one year and the beginning of another, we are excited to share Delia’s story in support of her mission. Read more:
1. What inspired you to create Mental Health Talks?
Mental illnesses are very prevalent amongst post-secondary students. Unfortunately, though, the silence and stigma around them makes it very difficult for people to reach out for help. I founded Mental Health Talks to change that.
2. What is Mental Health Talks’ mission?
Through short, powerful, and engaging talks, the primary goal of Mental Health Talks is to crush the stigma and end the silence around mental illness.
3. Are you spearheading this initiative solo? Who is on your team, by your side, helping to make this all happen?
Solo! However, Mental Health Talks is in partnership with Tilt, [a fundraising platform] and I have very supportive friends and family, who have immensely helped me.
I would also like to thank Tilt, [as it] allows users to easily crowdfund money online either through the mobile application or [on their site]. The Tilt team (Tilt Toronto and the Tilt HQ in San Francisco) have been incredibly supportive. All ticket sales for future events and Mental Health Talks merchandise will be sold on Tilt, so if you haven’t done so already, download the app and create an account!
4. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about eight per cent of adults in Canada will experience major depression at some point in their lives. About one per cent of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder in their lifetime. Do you have a personal connection to mental health that you are comfortable sharing with us? Tell us, if you are!
My struggle with mental illness started over five years ago. First, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, then generalized anxiety disorder and anorexia. After a long battle in silence, a suicide attempt and a near-fatal battle with anorexia, I finally decided to get help. Today, mental illness is no longer something I am ashamed of; it’s a reality that I live with every day and every day I get stronger.
5. Mental Health Talks held its first presentation at Ryerson University in Toronto. Tell us how it went!
With all the proceeds being donated to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, the focus of the first Mental Health Talks event was eating disorders. We had speakers from the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, Toronto General Hospital and Jack.org. Approximately 20 people were in attendance – you do not need to be a student to attend.
6. How many hours does it take to plan a Mental Health Talks presentation?
I spend approximately 20 hours a week doing work for Mental Health Talks.
7. How do you promote the organization? What is your most effective way of getting your mission statement out there, recruiting guests and supporting a positive change in the mental health industry?
Social media – it is very powerful, especially for my target audience (post-secondary students).
8. Tell us a little bit about you – what do you do when you’re not leading Mental Health Talks?
[As noted], I’m an aspiring psychiatrist, who is passionate about neuroscience and mental health. Other than that, I’m an athlete; I enjoy long runs and I play soccer competitively.
9. When did you first realize you wanted to work in mental health? Why is this significant?
During my struggle with mental illness, I decided that I wanted to work in mental health. Whether it be through Mental Health Talks or as a psychiatrist, I want to help as many people as I can.
10. Where can our readers find more information about Mental Health Talks?
Thank you Delia for sharing your story with the A Quarter Young community. We can’t wait to see how Mental Health Talks continues to grow and prosper. Delia, you are making change and facing challenges head on. Never stop shining bright!