Mentoring is making a difference in teens lives

Meet Jackie, a professional mentor in Guelph dedicated to curbing anxiety and depression through connection.

Becoming a social-emotional mentor was never on Jackie Ferris’ radar; However, she is thrilled that she ended up there. Jackie describes what she does similar to a life coach but more like the Aunt Jack you never knew you needed.

These were challenging times for everyone and Jackie knew she could help. Your recently launched mentoring program, Comrade Morpho, supports youth by offering genuine warmth, compassion and fun. This proactive approach creates a barrier between teenagers and the pressures of their lives, and has a stabilizing effect on their social, emotional, and physical well-being.

Follow the signs to more meaningful work

Jackie has fond childhood memories of her childhood in Fergus. Like many others, her younger years had their share of troubles; her parents’ divorce, her rebellious and defiant teenage years, and the loss of her mother to cancer just before Jackie went to college.

She was resilient, but the effects of those stressors caught up with Jackie in her mid-twenties. Despite living her dream life in Vancouver, she was gaining weight, struggling with exhaustion and had lost her sense of joy. Noticing the early symptoms of depression, a doctor recommended Jackie read self-help books, but she didn’t.

Fast forward a few years and Jackie is now in extreme depression and anxiety. The symptoms were so severe that she urgently needed the help of a clinical consultant. Together, they navigated difficult emotions at frequent appointments over several years. Not only did this experience put Jackie on a healing path, it also sparked her obsession with the importance of taking care of our mental health early on.

Together we are stronger

In 2016, Jackie received a desperate call from a sister in Elora. Jackie’s nephew, who was 24 at the time, had been taken in home wood with signs of psychosis. Without hesitation, she moved back to support her family. Jackie explained, “I wanted them to know that they’re not alone.”

When Jackie’s nephew was released, she moved in with him. She offered comfort and support and did what she could to make life feel a little recognizable. Some days they did nothing but watch The Office on TV, but when the opportunity arose, she gently encouraged him to take walks off the couch or throw emergency dance parties together in the kitchen. She said: “Having me there also gave my sister peace of mind. She knew he was fine when she wasn’t with him and that gave her a chance to rest.”

Jackie’s nephew enrolled 1st stepa service from CMHA. Jackie and her sister attended family reunions together. “I could see how tired and overwhelmed the other families were too. I wish I could support them in the same way, but now that I’ve stayed in Ontario I had to focus on getting a job.”

We need human connection

Rather than find a job, Jackie’s passion for mental health was reignited and she enrolled at University of Guelph Study psychology and fine arts. She explained, “I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to be a psychologist, but I hoped I would find inspiration for a fun and creative way I could help make people feel better about making a living.” earn.”

Halfway through her studies, the pandemic struck and classes were moved online. The semester ended in the middle of lockdown, and then Jackie’s anxiety and depression returned. “I was embarrassed that I didn’t have hobbies to keep me busy. I would just sit there and do Doom scrolling for hours.” Feeling the ill effects of not being able to interact with her family, friends and classmates, the importance of social connections hit her like a slap in the face. “I woke up one day and realized that people are my hobby. I love spending quality time connecting 1-on-1 with the people in my world.”

to be a big sister

With a newfound appreciation for the healing qualities of relationships, Jackie volunteered to be a mentor Big brothers, big sisters. When she first met her little sister, the pre-teen was reluctant and withdrawn. They met once a week to make art projects, cook healthy meals, or shop for Halloween costumes. “The conversations were pretty one-sided at first, but I knew I had to keep showing up to gain her trust.”

After a few months, Jackie noticed another girl walking out the front door. The now 13-year-old had obviously made an effort with her appearance this time. Jackie explained: “She looked super stylish for our plan to buy Starbucks and go for a walk downtown. I took it as a sign that we were making progress and building her confidence.”

They continue to meet once a week, and while they’re together, their little sister, Jackie, updates on what’s going on in their lives.

  • Celebrating that their grades have improved
  • Your newfound confidence to give class presentations
  • Back to reading and making art at home
  • What makes her nervous about starting high school?

Jackie boasted, “I even know who her crush is on, but I’ll never tell!”

By providing an intentionally nurturing and supportive relationship, Jackie has become another trusted adult in her little sister’s life. She concluded: “Now when I drop her off, we’re going to be in my car for 10 more minutes because she hasn’t finished talking. That was the first time I realized that this is exactly what I wanted to do professionally.”

Young people thrive on quality relationships


Studies show that adolescents do better in all aspects of life when they have a strong network of relationships with adults who support them. Without the sense of love and belonging that these relationships provide, teens struggle mentally and physically. Building a web is not always easy for a variety of reasons. Examples include;

  • Be new in town
  • be a single parent
  • Parents with demanding careers
  • No or unwanted extended family nearby
  • An introverted and/or socially anxious child

Jackie recognized that her patient, non-judgmental, and kind approach had a stabilizing and positive influence on her nephew and little sister, and wanted to offer others the same type of experience.

Jackie recently launched Comrade Morpho, a social-emotional mentoring program to help families of all walks of life feel supported.

How does a mentor help?


In contrast to therapy, this is a preventive approach. When signs of low self-esteem, anxiety, and/or depression are just beginning, a supportive relationship can keep things from getting worse when that’s easier. Jackie takes a passive approach to building trust, encouraging and supporting growth, and influencing happy and healthy habits.

Teenagers try to establish their identity independently of their family. Jackie said, “Many parents have a difficult time because they see their teens struggling and wanting to help, but even the most loving and sensible parenting advice can be quickly dismissed at this age.” Jackie is there to help her at this crucial time Development as they find their place in the world, to offer positive adult support and guidance.

What is Comrade Morpho?


Earning a teenager’s trust takes time and persistence before any real impact is possible. Comrade Morpho is a 1 year program consisting of 8-10 hours of one-on-one tuition with Jackie, broken up into up to 4 sessions per month. Mentees have access to Jackie between sessions via text/chat to keep in touch, just like a real friendship.

She calls the sessions “hangouts”, and what they do together depends on the interests, challenges and goals of each individual mentee. They can spend their time in the community, enjoy the great outdoors, or hang out at Jackie’s. While the activities are casual in nature, spending time together offers Jackie the opportunity to gently nurture her social and emotional well-being and influence positive habits.

Jackie handles all pickups and drops and activity costs are included. And if there is an opportunity to celebrate her mentee, for example a graduation or a concert, Aunt Jack will be there.

Comrade Morpho is currently accepting new mentees for a June start.

Space is limited and once full it will not be available again until June 2023.

If you and your child could benefit from this type of support, get in touch before April 14th to arrange a free one-hour consultation with Jackie. In addition, she offers potential mentees a free 1-hour meeting point to ensure that they want to spend the whole time with her.

To connect with Jackie Ferris: call/text (226)343-5648 or email:

Comrade Morpho
Social-emotional mentoring
Guelph & Surroundings
Age 10+
Visit the website here.

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