One in five Canadians has a mental illness, so chances are you or someone you know has been affected. The Canadian Mental Health Association says that despite its prevalence, mental illness continues to be stigmatized, forcing people to keep it a secret from friends, family and colleagues.
From Nov. 10 to 14, U of G is offering a series of events as part of 1 in 5 Mental Health Awareness Week. Activities will address the stigma by putting the emphasis on mental wellness – not illness – and highlighting healthy ways for people to cope with life’s challenges.
“We’re putting together a fun-filled week of activities meant to address stigma on campus and in the community,” says Jean Thompson, student wellness educator at U of G’s Wellness Education Centre. “It’s devoted to sharing resources with students on campus to support their personal mental health.”
Helping a friend or loved-one with a mental illness can be stressful for students. The week includes “Helping a Friend,” a workshop that provides students with tips on how to offer support using on- and off-campus resources. The workshop will be held Nov. 13 at 4:30 p.m. in MacKinnon, Room 234.
Since exercise has been proven to boost mental health, some of the week’s activities include free yoga and Zumba classes. But if you’d rather watch sports than participate in them, the Gryphon men’s hockey team will play Nipissing at the campus arena Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of events, visit https://uoguelph.collegiatelink.net/organization/wellness/events.
These events are presented by the Wellness Education Centre in collaboration with several on-campus partners, including Residence Life, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, the Multi-Faith Resource Team, the Student Support Network, the Central Student Association and Athletics.
The week highlights the wellness and support systems available on campus, such as the Wellness Education Centre, Counselling Services and Student Health Services, which work collectively to help students cope with a variety of mental health concerns.
Students face unique challenges such as balancing their academic responsibilities with their part-time jobs and personal lives. “It’s important for students who are struggling to go talk to someone and share their experiences,” says Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president, Student Affairs.
Students may feel more comfortable discussing their problems with a peer through the Student Support Network, a student-run drop-in at Raithby House, or talking to their residence assistant. Students can also phone Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454, a 24-hour hotline for post-secondary students who need someone to talk to or are looking for referrals.
All students are encouraged to access the recently launched mental wellbeing website at https://www.uoguelph.ca/mentalwellbeing/, which provides information and resources aimed at supporting the mental health of the community.