Fernanda Ferrarresso, a Level 3 public relations student, with award donor Danielle Côté. Photo credit: Naomie Twagirumukiza

When Fabiana Ferrarresso was in her 20s, mental health support was much different from now.

Mental health was not discussed, and people who needed mental health support were ignored most of the time.

“It was like a stigma all around the world,” Ferrarresso said.

When Ferrarresso was going through a hard time, her dad would tell her to just work and study hard, but her mom told her to see a therapist.

“It doesn’t work for everybody, but it changed my life,” Ferrarresso said.

Joining the public relations program at Algonquin College in 2022, Ferrarresso felt comfortable and surprised to see everyone openly talk about mental health.

This is why she wholeheartedly supported the fundraising hosted by the Algonquin College public relations program (ACPR). The purpose of ACPR’s fundraising program is to raise awareness of specific issues in the community while also allowing students to build a campaign focused on raising awareness and donations for their chosen charity.

Second-level ACPR students hosted a fundraiser for Upstream Ottawa through an alumni trivia night in the Observatory lounge at Algonquin College.

“We picked Upstream Ottawa because mental health resonated with most the students,” Joanne Regnier, a public relations student, said.

Upstream Ottawa is a local mental health and addictions support charity that focuses on removing barriers to care accessibility. It provides tailored and community-based support services to individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders so they can live stable, independent and self-guided lives. Upstream Ottawa plays an important role in making sure everyone in the community gets the help they need.

“We need to talk about mental health and educate more people on the subject,” said Ferrarresso.

Ferrarresso won the Sarah Grantier Award. The award goes to students enrolled in the public relations program who demonstrate strong written and verbal skills, are team players and have the ability to bring out the best in people.

“I did not expect it,” Ferrarresso said. “I really like helping people.”

If you missed the trivia night and want to make a donation, the award is listed on Algonquin College’s donation page. More information about the program is available on the ACPR website.