A birthday celebration with impact

2019-09-06 4:22:45 PM

Simone Côté is passionate about smashing stigma associated with mental illness. Watching many of her classmates and friends struggle with stress and anxiety during college and university, she saw how difficult it was for them to access the care they needed. In recent years, she also began learning about how mental illness has coloured her own family history because of a lack of resources and fear of seeking help.

Looking for ways to help break down barriers to mental healthcare, particularly for women, Simone turned the focus of her undergraduate independent senior research project to the ways in which we can help support students during the most challenging years of their post-secondary education.

Simone’s sister, Elle, also inspired her to deepen her commitment to advancing these issues: last year for her birthday, Elle hosted a fundraiser in support of Women’s College Hospital’s Women’s Mental Health Program in memory of a close friend’s sister. After learning more about the program and its groundbreaking contributions to women’s mental health research, Simone decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps and host a birthday fundraiser of her own.

“As I learned more about the hospital from Elle, I knew this was a program that I wanted to support,” says Simone. “Doing my own mental health research as part of my undergrad, and now continuing that work through my Master of Arts in Education and Society program at McGill, I’m really passionate about advocating for change. To have the opportunity to support the world-class mental health program at Women’s College Hospital is so meaningful to me.”

Simone Côté (right) with sisters Elle (middle) and Camille (left).

As her birthday approached in June, Simone connected with a Women’s College Hospital Foundation team member to set up her personalized birthday fundraising page. Setting an initial goal of $500, Simone began promoting her fundraiser on social media and encouraged her friends and family to make a donation in lieu of gifts. To her pleasant surprise, not only did she meet her goal within a week of launching the page, she surpassed it!

“I just couldn’t believe how generous and supportive everyone was,” says Simone. “I wanted to do something special and meaningful for my birthday and my family was right there beside me. It was amazing to receive the email notifications as donations were made and it felt even better knowing I am helping to make a difference.”

By her birthday, Simone had raised over $1,000 and was proud to share the news with everyone who supported her. “This was something that was really important to me and it was amazing that the people around me really supported me. I can’t thank them enough.”

As Simone enters into her second year of her master’s program this month to continue her own mental health research, she has launched an Instagram account with the handle @artistrywellness in support of her thesis, which will explore the relationship between art and well-being. She was also recently named the recipient of the prestigious Joseph Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship-Master’s in recognition of her demonstrated excellence in social sciences research.

Congratulations, Simone – and thank you for your commitment to changing lives by advancing women’s mental health!

Are you interested in hosting your own fundraiser in support of Women’s College Hospital?

Celebrations are a fun and easy way to raise money for the important work we do at Women’s College Hospital. Birthday parties, weddings, baby showers and retirement parties are just a few examples of great opportunities to engage your family, friends and colleagues with a cause that’s close to your heart by requesting donations in lieu of gifts.

For more information, contact Janet Patterfung, Manager of Community and Signature Events at janet.patterfung@wchospital.ca or 416.323.6323 ext. 4709.