Chloe Cleroux, 26, is a first-year student in the public relations program. She says self-compassion is a key to healing. Photo credit: Supplied by Chloe Cleroux

Chloe Cleroux, 26, knows adversity.

For several long years she was almost swallowed up in the bowels of an eating disorder along with its side dishes, depression and anxiety.

The all-consuming need to be a size zero and the link she had made between being thin and having friends insidiously overtook her.

“I was in very poor health,” she said. “I was so desperate to get help, but nothing was available.”

Affordable support resources were scarce. The wait time for an Ottawa treatment centre was one-and-a-half years. The only private residential facility in Ontario at that time was out of her reach financially.

These experiences all feed into why Cleroux feels so moved to support her public relations classmates’ bid to raise money in support of youth mental health.

“People don’t have the time to sit with being suicidal or being sick,” she said.

The goal of the 2021 ACPR campaign Brighter Days: Investing in mental health together “is to end the stigma around mental health and pave the way toward a better future for youth,” said their website.

Specifically, students hope to raise $20,000 this month for the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, which offers free residential and out-patient support to youth experiencing mental health challenges and substance abuse as well as to their families.

“They don’t have a long wait list or any wait list at all,” said Cleroux.

Their hard work culminates in a combination of virtual and in-person events launching March 20 and running throughout the month of April.

The offerings are diverse – from a 100-hour twitch stream featuring live music and e-sports, to art, workouts, yoga, cooking, an escape room and a beer and golf tournament.

Cleroux’s team is hosting An Evening Among the Stars. Its kick-off event on March 24, will offer information about tarot and horoscope readings and include a horoscope, birth chart and tarot card reading for “one lucky participant.” They will invite participants to purchase tickets and book appointments throughout the month of April 2021 for personal, couple or group readings with a professional.

Chloe Cleroux knows resilience too.

“I’m at a very good point in my life right now,” she said. “I am on medication. I’m completely symptom-free. I’m in a very good headspace.”

She said a key to her healing was self-compassion no matter what else was going on at any given moment.

Cleroux knows there’s no quick fix to healing from an eating disorder, or any other mental health concern. When asked what advice she would give to others she replied without hesitation.

“If I had any take-away with mental illness and what I went through, it’s that it gets better,” she said. “It really does. Just keep going.”

The ACPR program has been involved with charity campaigns for over 30 years and has raised over $400,000 for local and national charities.