This week, SWAC is commemorating Bell Let’s Talk Day with events focused on mental health and wellness, as well as by highlighting existing programming and services they provide.
At the men’s hockey game on January 26, fans were able to contribute uplifting messages to a banner and take a pledge to continue speaking about mental health as well as to take pictures with speech bubbles provided.
On Jan. 30, community members can take photos with a photo frame decorated with the day’s colours — blue and white — across from the Brock Card office in an event organized by Brock Sports, Health Management and Wellness and Student Life and Community Experience in addition to Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre. Passersby may also speak to the present peer health educators and fill out speech bubbles and white boards with positive messages about mental health, as well as obtain free coffee, tea and resources available. This will run from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Booths will also be set up in both DeCew and Lowenberger Residence Dining Halls, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. respectively.
The day’s final event is a #ConvoPlate workshop run by the Brock University Students’ Union and SWAC, allowing students to take part in the movement created by the Paul Hansell Foundation to honour a former Brock student who died by suicide. The participants will create their conversation plates at Isaac’s Bar and Grill at the event, from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., and then pass them along to someone else. The aim is to spark conversation about mental health.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is another movement dedicated to opening up discussion about mental health. On Jan. 30, the telecommunications giant will donate $0.50 to Canadian mental health initiatives for each tweet using #BellLetsTalk, view on social media of the official Bell Let’s Talk Day video and use of the event’s Facebook frame and Snapchat filter. It will also donate for each text sent and mobile and long distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers. Since 2011, the Bell Let’s Talk program has donated $93.4 million to mental health initiatives and provided mental health care to over six million individuals, including over 400,000 through tech-based mental health programs, according to the official Bell Let’s Talk website.
According to Sarah Pennisi, the Director of SWAC, there is help available through several avenues for students experiencing mental health concerns: academic accommodations due to mental health concerns at Student Accessibility Services, the health clinic or meeting with Student Health Services’ doctors or mental health nurses and Personal Counselling that can be reached at any time of day or night to schedule an appointment or speak directly to someone if in distress. Peer health educators are available to speak to at the HUB for further information about resources.
With many supports available both on campus and off, students may struggle with determining which is right for them.
“My recommendation is to reach out to anyone of the supports noted above,” said Pennisi. “The important thing is to reach out.”
Last year, approximately 1,665 students accessed personal counselling services on campus. While these services support students experiencing mental health concerns, they also can provide support and information for those around them.
“We all experience mental health concerns at one time or another. University can be very stressful,” said Pennisi. “There are many opportunities for students to get information or help with mental health concerns. I want to make sure that students reach out if they are worried about themselves, a friend, classmate or roommate.”
Students in crisis can access the urgent support line by calling 1-833-BROCK33 or 001 416 382 3257 if they are out of the country. The former is also the number to book an appointment with Personal Counselling. To make appointments with SWAC professionals, students can call 905-688-5550 and dial extension 3243 for Student Health Services or extensions 3200 or 4300 to reach Campus Security’s crisis and non-crisis lines respectively.
Other crisis resources include calling 911 or accessing the Niagara Distress Centre’s support line at 905-688-3711. Students living on campus can contact the service desk for support from the Residence Life Staff.