Hello, my name is Sam Mendoza and I design charitable streetwear apparel under the moniker D.I.T.R.O. (Diamonds in the Rough Originals).

“We’re all mad here” is a quote from Alice + Wonderland. A bold statement that has always resonated with me + why I’m here, as an advocate, to talk about the importance of raising awareness for Mental Health + Mental Illness.

Mental Health + Mental Illness affects us ALL every day.  It should never be a “trending” topic of the day to all of a sudden begin the conversation when a celebrity passes away or has been diagnosed with mental illness. It should NEVER be something that gets addressed when it’s too late.

If anything, it should be a topic that we talk about openly to others each day. It’s not something that should be swept under the rug nor be ashamed of. By doing the simple act of sharing our feelings + stories, we can connect + come together to find ways + resources to make a difference, not only for own well-being but the well-being of people we love, as well as finding our own unique voice/way to support community programs and charitable organizations in our own city.

What people don’t know about me + my charitable streetwear brand moniker D.I.T.R.O  is that my motivation + inspiration to connect + collaborate with charitable organizations [ that specialize in mental health], stems from my parents, both of whom work in the mental health field, + as well, my own personal experience working as a psychiatric aide at the Centennial Centre of Mental Health & Brain Injury (CCMHBI) in Ponoka, Alberta.

I have experienced the stigma of growing up in a town that was known for it’s “looney bin” + constantly hearing sh*tty jokes that I must be “crazy” too, not knowing how to stand up for the mental health facility I proudly worked for. I have loved + lost people close to me who took their own life because their mental illness became too much to bear, and I have seen the effects of what can happen to others if not supported and listened to.

If it wasn’t for these life experiences +  my family, friends, + clients I worked closely with at CCMHBI who have shared their life stories with me, I wouldn’t have become the open person I am now nor would I have cared as much about mental health + mental illness, + I also wouldn’t have found my passion + creative way to give back through D.I.T.R.O.

This is REAL LIFE + mental health is a very real part of it. If we start talking, hopefully, others will too.