Advocating for Mental Health

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January 21, 2016

Smallwood making big impact as board member, fundraiser

Social media has the power to convey, connect and make possible a conversation that otherwise may go unsaid. For Anastasia Smallwood, a 2nd year Bachelor of Public Relations student, it presented an opportunity to step up and make a difference as a member of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia Board of Trustees.

Anastasia and Starr Dobson2

Finding the Foundation

Last year, as a part-time student employee with Career Services, Anastasia was asked to manage the Twitter account of a local celebrity – Oscar, the Mount’s therapy dog. “I started reaching out to similar accounts and organizations like the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia,” she says. “One day, I saw a post from the Foundation seeking a youth member for the Board of Trustees. I loved my prior experiences with student governance and mental health is a cause close to my heart. I emailed the Foundation to get involved." (Shown above with Foundation President and CEO, Starr Dobson)

A Desire to "Be the Change"

Originally from Quispamsis, New Brunswick, Anastasia started her university career as a Bachelor of Science student at the University of Prince Edward Island. While focusing her academics on Biology, Anastasia found an opportunity outside of class that became life-changing. “I was the coordinator of orientation week for incoming students in 2011 and 2012,” she says, recalling the experience. “It helped to shape me as a person. I successfully ran for the Student Union Presidency in my final year and saw the importance of student wellness initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week." In her final year, and on the advice of her aunt and two Mount alumnae, Anastasia began to explore Public Relations as a possible next step. “I loved event planning, writing and all things related to community-building,” she says. “I looked into the Mount and knew – this was it.”

Since joining the Mount in January 2015, Anastasia has grown a strong network both on campus and in the broader community.  “Last summer, I was an on-the-ground civic events coordinator with the city [of Halifax], working with sponsors on concerts and special events,” she says. “That experience – getting to know the city – made Halifax feel like home.” On campus, she’s been a recording secretary and student representative council speaker with the Mount Students’ Union, and is a current member of the PR and Communication Student Society, along with coordinating social media efforts for the CIBC Run for the Cure.

DSOM16 Final Image

Returning to Centre-Stage

Where did Anastasia learn about time management, organization and poise? “My mom, and also having spent 15 years in dance,” she says. “Dancing was my life, and I’m looking forward to returning to the stage as a performer in the upcoming fundraising event for the Foundation.” On February 19, Anastasia will join other community leaders to perform during A Different Stage of Mind, one of the city’s largest fundraising events to support Nova Scotians living with mental illness and their loved ones. “It’s rewarding to be part of that work at the Foundation,” she says. “Mental health affects so many families in our province.”


Anastasia is working towards a better tomorrow, committed to changing the way people think about mental health as a communicator, community-builder and young professional. You can support Anastasia’s fundraising efforts by making a donation on the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia website. 

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