UCalgary campus
University of Calgary files

May 15, 2024

SU Mental Health Award recognizes student leaders in mental health awareness

Four undergrads rewarded for their leadership, advocacy, and volunteer work.

The SU Mental Health Award is awarded to students who demonstrate leadership within the mental health community and show a deep commitment to supporting others. This award honours undergraduate students at the University of Calgary who actively advocate for mental health and well-being, work towards reducing stigma, and foster compassionate and empathetic conversations about mental illness. 

Amr Gohar 

In the face of pervasive societal stigmas surrounding mental health, Gohar inspired change, driven by personal struggles and a deep-seated commitment to fostering open dialogue and dismantling taboos. 

Gohar’s journey began amidst a culture of silence and stigma, where phrases like "just get over it" and "boys don't cry" discouraged honest communication about mental well-being. Motivated by his own battles with mental health, he confronted these issues head-on, creating The Bloomers Podcast in August 2021 as a platform for candid discussions and relatable advice on mental health and life struggles. 

Through the podcast, Gohar has facilitated open, heartfelt conversations about mental health, challenging the facade of perfection perpetuated by social media and providing a supportive space for individuals to share their stories. With episodes covering topics ranging from stress management to battling suicidal thoughts, his podcast has garnered significant traction, accumulating 70,000 views across various platforms and reaching audiences worldwide. 

Gohar's impact extends beyond the digital realm; he has been invited to speak at youth events and interviewed by prominent media outlets, forging connections and contributing to a cultural shift towards greater understanding and acceptance of mental health struggles. 

Looking to the future, Gohar remains steadfast in his mission to dismantle the layers of stigma surrounding mental health, fostering a society characterized by empathy, honesty, and transparency. His journey illustrates the transformative power of vulnerability and the profound impact of speaking out against silence.  

Connor Hass 

In his commitment to reshaping perspectives on disability and mental health, Hass has had a profound journey marked by personal challenges and remarkable professional achievements. Hass exemplifies a multifaceted commitment to empathy, leadership, and advocacy. 

As a distinguished co-director of training for Student Medical Response (SMR), Hass devoted over 800 hours to meticulously developing and guiding a team of responders. Holding a specific leadership role within SMR, he orchestrated comprehensive training programs, ensuring that approximately 50 responders were equipped to handle diverse medical and mental health emergencies with utmost sensitivity and expertise. Hass’s initiatives, including specialized training sessions conducted in collaboration with esteemed professionals, elevated the standard of care on campus and empowered students to provide peer support in times of crisis. 

Hass’s impact extended beyond campus borders through his role as a community medical responder, where he invested over 300 hours in providing vital medical assistance at local events. Championing a non-judgmental approach and active listening, he navigated difficult conversations with empathy, offering holistic support to individuals in need. 

As the leader behind the University of Calgary's FISU Healthy Campus initiative, Hass spearheaded efforts to enhance student well-being and mental health support systems. His role as project manager involved collaborating with diverse stakeholders to implement comprehensive health promotion strategies, culminating in the university earning UCalgary the prestigious FISU Healthy Campus Label. This contributed to a reference framework for higher education institutions and set a precedent for other universities world-wide to look to us as a model to adopt similar approaches to campus health.  

Danial Jamal 

Born into an immigrant Pashtun family in New York shortly after 9/11, the challenges Jamal encountered as a Muslim in North America profoundly impacted his dedication to mental health advocacy and fostering inclusivity.  

As a research co-ordinator with the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women (ANIW), under the Women and Gender Equity Federal Department, Jamal leads a primary prevention project focused on domestic violence, developing tailored well-being groups for diverse ethnocultural communities. Within the Faculty of Social Work at UCalgary, he co-coordinated men's well-being groups addressing the intersections of mental health, migration, racism, and intimate partner violence, shedding light on unique challenges and advocating for culturally sensitive approaches to support.  

Jamal’s commitment extends beyond research, as evidenced by his leadership roles within the UCalgary community. As president of the Mental Health Awareness club, he led initiatives to destigmatize mental illness, securing funding for research on Canadian Muslim youth mental health, as well as developing innovative practices like Meditative Dialogue Circles (MDC) through the Breathe Easy Club. Additionally, as a student representative on the Faculty of Social Work's Mental Health and Wellness Committee, he advocated for peer support programs and initiatives to improve student well-being.  

Jamal is actively preparing to establish UCalgary's inaugural Anti-Muslim Racism Committee, showcasing his dedication to inclusivity and equity on campus and prioritizing mental health and emotional safety for everyone. 

Through resilience and advocacy, Jamal has transformed adversity into opportunity. He remains dedicated to advancing compassionate and supportive environments on campus.

Kate Wagner 

Wagner embarked on a journey of resilience and advocacy following the tragic loss of her partner to suicide. This pivotal event ignited a relentless commitment to mental health awareness and leadership. She raised over $10,000 for a local mental health branch, emphasizing the importance of breaking the silence surrounding men's mental health struggles.  

Wagner is committed to creating a sanctuary for those whose wounds remain hidden beneath the surface, a place where they can safely and confidently take on their journey toward healing. Their advocacy extends beyond fundraising; Wagner actively fosters environments of vulnerability and support, both on their hockey team and within their family. She leads by example, sharing her journey of healing and regularly discussing her experiences with mental health challenges. Her involvement in mental health initiatives, such as the Bell Let's Talk campaign, has allowed Wagner to amplify her voice and share their journey of healing with a wider audience. In the feature produced for 2024’s Crowchild Classic, she emphasized the importance of speaking up and creating a welcoming environment for mental health conversation. 

As the eldest of four sisters, Wagner also plays a pivotal role in advocating for broader focus on the pervasive impact of societal pressures and the dangers of unchecked social media usage. Witnessing the impact of cyberbullying on one of their younger sisters strengthened her determination to create a safer, more supportive community. 

From tragedy to advocacy, Wagner's path has been marked by unwavering determination and a steadfast commitment to advocate for mental health awareness, to ensure that no one suffers in silence.

The SU Mental Health Award is part of the Quality Money program, a partnership between the Students’ Union and the University of Calgary that gives the campus community a unique opportunity to bring forward ideas leading to the enhancement of the overall student experience. The program has contributed to the well-being, mental health, physical fitness, and general safety of the campus community.

Sign up for UToday

Sign up for UToday

Delivered to your inbox — a daily roundup of news and events from across the University of Calgary's 14 faculties and dozens of units

Thank you for your submission.