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'I just feel like being completely honest': Northern Pikes' Jay Semko shares mental health message
SASKATOON -- Northern Pikes bassist Jay Semko is sharing his story of mental health and addiction to influence another generation to talk about mental health.
Semko has suffered from depression, bipolar disorder and drug addiction and has partnered with the Schizophrenia Society of Saskatchewan to create a presentation and concert for high school students that might be affected by mental illness.
"I'm not an expert on anything maybe other than playing the bass and singing sometimes, but I just feel like being completely honest with my story," Semko said.
Semko shared his story on Wednesday at Evan Hardy Collegiate in front of more than 150 students.
The school holds a special place in his heart – it’s where he graduated.
"The teenage years are not an easy time and they were challenging for me. A lot of people deal with that stuff without even realizing it or knowing it.”
He performed some of the Northern Pikes’ top charting songs and then shared how he sought support for his illnesses while also offering advice to students.
"We educate students in the classroom but when we can bring someone in front of the community and engage students in a different way, then we take that opportunity," vice principal Candace Elliott-Jensen said.
Each student in the audience was picked to watch the presentation, with many directly affected by mental health illnesses, she said.
"To see people speaking about it and saying hey there's hope, there's help, there's ways you can get better, it can be really impactful and really powerful for a lot of people to know that their not alone," Grade 12 student AJ Classen said.
This was Semkos first mental health presentation focused at helping teenagers. He has plans for more in the coming year.
"I'm hoping they can be inspired to look for help or talk to someone. That's the biggest thing.”