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'Shitty mental health experience helped me to help others' Jake Stika

Jake Stika founder of Canadia nonprofit Next Jen Men joined Purposely Podcast to share his story.

‘I had a really shitty mental health experience in my early 20s and came to understand that it was a masculine script that was harming me and I have been on a unlearning and learning journey, sharing that with people.’

Jake a former athlete and self-confessed jock, struggled with his own mental health. This experience led to unsafe behaviour and a negative view of himself particularly in relation to his own masculinity. Eventually a period of self-reflection as well as therapy helped Jake to understand himself better and offered him more positive thoughts about what it means to be a man.

This journey led him to a life of purpose and co founding the charity Next Gen Men focused on gender-based issues related to the social and emotional development of young men. It focuses on the health and well-being of men where boys and men ‘experience less pain and cause less harm’.

‘I've had an eclectic career. You know, I played Semi Pro basketball, until I was the ripe old age of 24. I then retired and came back to Canada and got a job in oil and gas as a business analyst, which, which was just awful. That is when I made the leap. Initially working as part of a start-up ecosystem leading business development and sales for several start-ups. That was part of the catalyst of Next Gen Men.'

'I had been fundraising for the men’s health charity Movember for five years, and they had a call for proposals out for new ideas to change the face of men's health in Canada. I fancied myself as an entrepreneur and here was an idea and a funding opportunity, so we pitched! Together with a buddy of mine from University, who had lost his brother to suicide and who was working with at risk youth we pitched this idea and we got the funding, $150,000, to three knuckleheads who've never done anything like this before’

Their youth programs teach boys to question gender stereotypes and assumptions. Their work helps build emotional intelligence, giving youth the skills and resilience they need for healthy relationships and positive mental health. How to practice consent, how to be a good friend, how to live with confidence and empathy, their programs engage youth in the big conversations they need to have.

Jake was named one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, as well as having earned recognition from Ashoka, the British Council, and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. He has spoken at the United Nations as part of the Canadian Delegation, and participated in the UN Women Safe Cities Initiative Global Forum. He is also a proud advisor to the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association, Canadian Women & Sport, as well as the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter.


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