A single moment of compassion altered the course of Ampai Thammachack’s life, and now she’s all about paying it forward. As a teen in Bedford, N.S., she suffered from low self-worth and suicidal thoughts after her family experienced a harrowing financial crisis that nearly resulted in homelessness. After Ampai experienced an emotional breakdown one morning at high school, a guidance counsellor reached out to her and helped her connect with mental health services and treatments. From there, her mental health journey began, and it has led to an understanding of the necessity of mental health, the need to destigmatize getting help and an awareness of the challenges involved in accessing support.
Ampai’s experience inspired her to want to help others who suffer similarly. She founded Step Above Stigma (SAS), a growing team of young volunteers who strive to educate and advocate for mental health awareness and accessibility. Since starting out, Ampai has coordinated hundreds of events and campaigns raising over $100,000 and is expanding the organization to include multiple branches across Canada. In 2019, she also became the first Queen’s University student to be named one of the Top 22 Under 22 Most Inspirational College Women in the World by Her Campus Media. What’s even more impressive is that this isn’t her first foray into philanthropy! Ampai is also the co-founder of the Glass Slipper Organization, a non-profit group operating three outlets across Canada. The group has collected and donated over 1000 prom dresses to students who can’t afford a gown.
STEP ABOVE STIGMA
Step Above Stigma (SAS) was formed in 2017 with the goal of removing the stigma around mental health. Aiming to revolutionize and redefine what it means to have mental health or struggle with mental illness, the group works toward educating the public and building community. A central focus for SAS is raising funds to improve access to services and treatments while addressing intersectional factors such as race, gender and socio-economic status.