Who We Are

We are Step Above Stigma (SAS)—a Canadian charity dedicated to empowering young adults to break the stigmas that say they are unworthy since 2017

Step Above Stigma Logo

SAS is a home that empowers young adults to critically question social norms and step above the stigmas that prevent them from having good mental health. At SAS, empowerment is the antidote to stigma. 

Our mission is to instil community, leadership, and purpose in 250,000 young adults by 2027 so they can live mentally healthier lives.

The Issue We Are Working to Address

Canada is experiencing a mental health crisis among youth.

  • Youth have seen the greatest declines in their mental health since the pandemic (Statistics Canada).
  • 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness. Less than 20% of those children and youth will receive appropriate treatment. 

These statistics ultimately remain intact because of the stigma that is attached to mental health. Unfortunately, eradicating such stigmas in today’s world requires changing entire systems and having every single person accept, respect, and ensure equitable treatment and support for everyone, which is impossible to do at the snap of our fingers. That is why we want to focus on reducing stigmas on the individual and community levels first. 

The antidote to stigma on the individual level is empowerment. To combat and reduce the previously mentioned stats, our goal is to empower youth through community, leadership, and advocacy and enable them to have a purpose-driven impact. 

How We Are Creating Change

Ampai Thammachack signing a large cheque

Through our work, we enable individuals to take their power back by empowering them to have a purpose-driven impact.

Our programs and events are not an alternative to therapy. However, with the lack of resources publicly available and the significant costs of mental healthcare, we focus on a community approach to care. 

Together, we help support each other as we grow and learn.

Since we were founded in 2017, Step Above Stigma is proud to have impacted the lives of over 125,000+ youths and young adults through our various initiatives. 

Stay tuned for the Step Above Stigma impact report coming in 2024. 

Our Values

  • Courage: When it comes down to it, there’s one thing that can empower someone more than anything else: the ability to act in the face of fear. We aspire to empower and elevate youth and young adults to have the courage to be who they are, even when the world tells them that they are not enough.
  • Compassion: We believe in the power of compassion. It’s not just about helping others; it’s also about understanding that we’re all connected—that we all have similar needs and desires and that we can empathize with each other because we’ve been through similar things ourselves. Helping and supporting each other has a ripple effect, and we value making a more compassionate world for all, one step at a time.
  • Creativity: Creativity is a fundamental attribute that has the power to change the face of mental health. It’s not just about being able to come up with a new idea—it’s also about being able to execute that idea and make it happen. At Step Above Stigma, we utilize creativity throughout every touch point, whether it be coming up with a new mental health solution or receiving feedback on how we can do better.
  • Commitment: We’re committed to making an impact on our generation’s mental health. We believe that everyone deserves to love themselves, even when they make mistakes or simply feel like they don’t belong. We want youth and young adults to recognize that they matter and are valued in this world so they can thrive.
  • Community: There are so many things to celebrate about being different, but there’s something even more powerful about being able to unite around commonalities. We want to create a space where people from all walks of life can come together and celebrate what makes them unique, where they feel welcomed and understood, and where everyone feels like they belong.

SAS has done so much for me. I have found so many people who understand me and relate to me with lots of my experiences that I’ve opened up to regarding my mental health and experience with illness. SAS is so much more than a community and support system. It has allowed for me to be a better advocate and learn more about people’s experiences and where they come from, and I’m grateful to be part of such an amazing team.

headshot of Jacob Shaddock 

Jacob Shaddock 

I was introduced to SAS in my first year at Queen’s University. After being on SAS for 4 years, it has been featured in some of my most cherished memories while pursuing my post-secondary education in Canada as an international student. SAS has provided me with not just a wonderful community with like-minded mental health advocates but also people who I now call dear friends. I truly cannot imagine my undergraduate experience without SAS, and am ever so grateful to the organization for making it so fulfilling and so empowering.

headshot of Simran Dhaliwal

Simran Dhaliwal

SAS means a lot to me as someone who comes from a culture where mental health is often a taboo topic. I learnt more about myself, the importance of prioritizing my mental health and seeking the right resources because of SAS. It is amazing to be a part of a team that both starts those conversations but also helps create or direct individuals to possible solutions.

Roscoe Dilman

Roscoe Dilman