Student Spotlight: Trevor Mills
He’s a student, a teacher and counsellor, a storyteller and a multi-talented musician. Trevor Mills wears many hats, but his focus is clear: to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and find brighter pathways for all who are impacted by the illness.
His commitment to mental health initiatives in British Columbia is not a fleeting fancy. The year 2013 left an indelible mark on his life. After having struggled with mental illness for seven years, Mills’ older brother committed suicide.
To help cope with his loss and in an effort to start meaningful dialogue surrounding mental health issues, Mills turned back to hip hop, a music genre he and his brother discovered together at an early age. Already a successful MC with one album under his belt, Trevor now uses hip hop in the classroom to encourage his students to start conversations around mental health issues.
Mills is also completing his Masters in Education in Educational Practice.
On researching the program, he stated, “strength-based learning and resilience factors were some of the aspects…that really stood out as relevant to my practice.” He’s always placed value on allowing students’ to emphasize their strengths and honour their uniqueness amongst classmates and this program seemed like one where he would be able to learn and grow with similar minded people who “understand the importance and potential of the platform we work from each day.”
At the start of the program, Mills found that mental health and overall wellness were very strong focuses in the program. Being surrounded by socially conscious members within the program helped Mills in his advocacy for mental health. Through dialogue within his cohort him and his classmates have exchanged resources and strategies on how to better meet the needs of students.
The emotional demands of teaching full time and coursework at the graduate level can be draining with the potential of burning out. Program faculty strive to work with Mills and fellow classmates to develop support plans, as well as make themselves available to discuss any issues that come up during their studies. Seeing this approach modeled by instructors has inspired Mills to further develop ways to support his students in high school classrooms.
Over the past year, Mills has raised over $25,000 for mental health in BC through Bell Media’s Let’s Talk Day. He also started a Kickstarter project and released a music album – Evidence of a Struggle E.P. – to commemorate his late brother and to raise funds for the VGH Mental Health Foundation.
Mills was featured on CTV News on January 28, 2015. Watch the segment at: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=540663