October 10, 2018 | Campus Life, Health, Society
World Mental Health Day is the perfect time to celebrate the collective efforts of the MacEwan community to take care of our mental health, and to support one another.
“It’s so important to create a supportive campus environment,” says Sydney Bennell, a student wellness coach with MacEwan’s Wellness and Psychological Services. “The more we talk about mental health, the more we can dispel myths, break down barriers and support each other in our journeys.”
As a university, MacEwan recognizes that stigma still exists around mental illness, and that the fear of being judged or negative stereotypes can keep people from seeking help, explains Sydney.
That’s why MacEwan launched the Changing Minds: Creating a healthy campus campaign in March, with the goal of starting more conversations, sharing resources and providing mental health support training.
During the past six months, MacEwan’s students and staff have shared stories of their personal mental health struggles, strategies and victories – from how exercise helped with anxiety and the importance of sleep, to the power of owning your story and how listening to a friend can be the best place to start.
“As we share our stories, we start to see that mental health concerns are not exclusive – they can impact us all, at any point in our lives,” says Sydney. “It's important for people to know that, and recognize there is help out there.”
At MacEwan, that help can look like counselling, tutoring, career services, wellness animals, fitness opportunities or financial support. And beyond these on-campus supports, the university is also equipping students to better understand mental health and how they can support one another on campus.
The Inquiring Mind workshop, regularly hosted by Wellness and Psychological Services, is free to all MacEwan students. The session is interactive, and teaches strategies to recognize signs of declining mental health in yourself and others, provides practical knowledge and skills to address challenges and advises on how to reduce stigma around the issue. The next workshop is on Tuesday, October 23 from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
Taking time to think about mental health
“I spent the whole time I was in The Inquiring Mind workshop wishing that my friends and my partner could take it too. I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember, and I really think the workshop would help them understand me better.”
Since January, 190 students have taken The Inquiring Mind workshop, including 25 resident assistants and 40 students in the Correctional Services program, who are now participating in the workshop as part of their courses.
“We can all create a supportive campus by learning more, being kind to each other and knowing about the resources available,” says Sydney. “Mental health is something we need to take care of just like we take care of our physical health.”
This story is part of Changing Minds: Creating a healthy campus – an initiative that makes mental health a priority. The program connects training opportunities, support services, resources and stories from real people across the MacEwan University community.