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Radio's Lee Haberkorn shares his mental health story with Montreal teens

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You may know him from Virgin Radio. He's outgoing, funny, and energetic -- but long before Lee Haberkorn was on the airwaves, he battled his own demons.

 "I was so hard on myself on the inside, and teachers, friends, nobody thought I'd be the one to go down that dark path," he told CTV News.

That dark path led him to seek comfort in the wrong places.

"Turning to drugs and alcohol, I was suicidal at one point in my life [...]That's when something hit me, for the first time in my life, I could ask for help."

Haberkorn got the help he needed. Fifteen years later, he's using his voice in the hopes it inspires teens to speak up.

"The platform I have today and the mission that I'm on, I'm able to help so many people and it's only because of my past," he said.

And he's using that past to share his experiences with adolescents, partnering with an organization called The Friendship Circle.

"They started a movement called Umatter, to go into schools and do workshops to really make sure every teen knows they matter."

Mushky Paris, UMatter's outreach coordinator, has worked closely with Haberkorn on making these school discussions a reality.

"He set this goal that within five years he wants to go to every English high school in Montreal, and I think we're already on the right path," she said.

Struggling alone is unfortunately common among teens. Umatter says 50 per cent of adolescents face mental health challenges.

The teens at Macdonald High School in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue say they notice it in their peers.

"I think it's tough for certain people to share their struggles because on the outside they look perfectly fine but on the inside there's a storm in there," said 10th grader Braulio Burns Lopez.

Another student, Leah Al Shourbaji, added, "I think a lot of people know that others around them are struggling, but what I think is hard is for people to actually communicate that."

That's where Haberkorn steps in to guide the conversation.

His role in the dialogue resonates with teens like Fiona Govers: "Seeing someone who has a career like this, who has influence, talk about their mental health struggles is so important for youth."

Haberkorn says adolescents these days are learning to be more vulnerable, "There's still this, 'it's not cool,' to be kind or open or transparent or vulnerable. That's what's changing with this generation."

And it's changing with a little help from Haberkorn as he shares his struggles and his story. 

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