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'This isn't a story, it's my life': Guelph mental health champion Noah Irvine releases book

The story of 22-year-old Noah Irvine takes readers through the loss of his parents to becoming a mental health advocate
Noah Irving(1)
Author and mental health advocate Noah Irvine stands with his book.

In 2021, local mental health advocate Noah Irvine spent a month writing between 8,000 and 10,000 words a day, chronicling the events in his life from the death of his parents, his political advocacy and his hopes for the future. 

He is now a published author with the release of his book Learning to Live.

“I was really pushed and inspired by friends and family to do this, said Irvine. “For the last number of years many people have said you have a story worth sharing as a book, and I didn't really know what that would look like or would mean.”

Learning to Live takes readers through three key areas of Irvine's life. His story, his advocacy and his hopes for the future.

Irvine explains how he lost his mother to suicide when he was just five years old and about the loss of his father in 2015 to mental illness, and how these events shaped the course of his life from such a young age.

Irvine is a long-time advocate for mental health and the humanization of the people living with mental health.

From writing letters to MPs, speaking with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and winning a national award for his effort to create a national suicide prevention plan, Irvine has been a force in ending the stigmas associated with mental health. 

“I think it's important that people read that political side of this because at the end of the day there is only so much one advocate can ask for, and in order to create systemic change in mental health and addiction, society needs to ask for that as well,” said Irvine.

The advocacy section of the book includes pictures of Irvine with MPs who responded to his letters and scans of responses he received from government officials from the Premier of the Northwest Territories to the mayor’s office in Saskatoon.

Irvine self-published the book, which took him roughly a year, printed it locally and will see his book for sale online and at The Bookshelf in Guelph.

For Irvine, publishing the book goes deeper than telling his story, as a portion of the funds from each book sold will go directly back into the community through his recently-established scholarship supporting graduating high school students. The Lesley Irvine and Kent Martin Scholarship, named in memory of his mother and father. 

“I didn't write this to make money, or get famous or get in the paper again. I wrote this to help people,” said Irvine.

“Money is a part of that, and I wanted to make sure I was able to give back to the school that, in many ways, saved my life. Education has saved my life, education has been the single most important part of my 22 years, and I wanted to give back to gets who deserve it, need it and had one of the worst starts in life.”

Those eligible for the scholarship are students who have lost a parental figure and are pursuing further education.

“It’s not a scholarship you totally want to be on the receiving end because of the criteria, but if I can support kids who have lost a parent or both that's all I could ever ask for,” said Irvine. 

So far, the scholarship has been green lit and locked into distribution until June of 2023, however, Irvine said due to the number of donations he has received thus far he thinks the scholarship will continue.

“That’s all I've ever wanted. To give back, and I'm glad that folks who are buying my book already are being that kind and supportive and giving back,” said Irvine.

More info on the book and how to purchase it can be found here.