January 25, 2021 —
As more people become informed about mental health care and continue making great progress in reducing mental illness-related stigma, many more are inspired to find innovative methods to contribute to these efforts in their own way. Members of the UM student community are no exception, rising to the occasion and doing their part to lead the dialogue in challenging the stigma.
Émilie Massé, a Faculty of Architecture student and Bisons women’s hockey athlete, recently launched Fivefiftyfive, a clothing brand intended to advocate for changing the narrative around mental health. With 10 per cent of all proceeds donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Émilie’s brand is fully committed to this movement.
“The sole intent of my brand is to enhance positive conversations and to remove the stigma,” Massé says. “I felt that mental health can be as much of a blessing as it is a curse. I wanted to take an experience like that and find the positives behind it. That’s what really pushed me to start the brand.”
Each design collection represents a variety of thoughtful messages or prompts that reflect on mental health and its power on personal growth. “I wanted to enhance the positive conversation in a simple yet effective way so that anyone can wear it,” she adds.
Massé also found inspiration in her experiences as a student-athlete. “I’ve seen friends and teammates struggle,” says Émilie. With an evident passion for uplifting other people, being able to provide a safe environment for her peers to feel comfortable confiding in her also contributed to the decision to undertake this project.
In addition, Massé is collaborating with local artists on new design collections, and by featuring their work, she is able to help other artists during the pandemic.
The community has undoubtedly responded well in spirit of support, empathy and advocacy. People have reached out not only to purchase products, but also to express their appreciation for what the brand stands for. As a result, this only fuels Massé’s desire to continue.
“Just the idea that I’m helping people out is what keeps me going,” she highlights. “Knowing I can help someone in the smallest way has also helped my own mental health tremendously.”
At this point, Massé plans to continue building the Fivefiftyfive brand (@fivefiftyfive.co on Instagram) with the release of another design collection in the works. As it has always been her primary objective, she will keep using her platform to empower other people in their own personal mental health journey and to encourage the community to join in ending the stigma associated with mental health and its care.
If you are a member of the UM community looking for ways to join the mental health conversation, other members of the UM community are leading virtual events throughout this week in alignment with Bell Let’s Talk Day on Thursday, January 28th. Émilie Massé will be taking over the @umstudent Instagram account on Wednesday, January 27 and more information on Bell Let’s Talk Day and UM events, including registration information and dates, can be found on UM Today.