Photo Credit: Mackenzie Gerry 

 

Bell Let’s Talk Day is on January 28, but the conversation surrounding mental health and wellness is one that needs to continue throughout the year. 

 

To foster more conversations around mental health, there will be a number of workshops and events in the coming weeks. Rather than a single day of events, Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) along with Human Rights and Equity (HRE) have rolled out a two-week program called Be Well Badgers. The program will include workshops and events on a wide range of topics. 

 

Workshops and topics will include: “Reach Out,” “Curious about Cannabis,” “Online Meditation,” “Boys Cry Too,” “Self Care and Self Regulation,” as well as a gaming social and film night. Students who attend four or more of these events will be entered into a contest to win a $50 SkipTheDishes gift card. 

 

SWAC’s programming does not begin and end during Bell Let’s Talk Day they hope to continue the conversation throughout the year. SWAC has an ongoing social media campaign in association with BUSU, that encourages students to reach out and support one another, that will continue for the whole year.

 

“I would really like students, staff, faculty, everybody, to feel more comfortable asking ‘are you okay?’ and supporting each other,” said Julie Fennel, Health Promotion Educator at Brock. 

 

“Brock is a community and it takes everyone caring about mental health. It’s kind of a cliche that there is no health without mental health but it is so true,” said Mehroon Kassam, Manager, Personal Counselling and Student Health Services. “It’s [everyone’s] problem and all of us need to join forces to talk about mental health.” 

 

So often the message that students receive around Bell Let’s Talk Day is about reaching out and supporting others through their mental health struggles, but Kassam reminds students that they can accept help as well as offer it. 

 

“Accepting help, as much as reaching out is important, it’s important to say ‘I need some help, I need to talk to somebody. I’m just feeling miserable and I don’t know why,’” said Kassam. 

 

Kassam and Fennel also recognize that many students might not view their struggles as serious enough to warrant talking to a mental health professional.

 

“Sometimes the emotions are hard to understand. You don’t have to have a specific symptom to access these services,” said Kassam

 

Fennel says that students often come to the Student Health and Wellness Hub, a space where they can access peer-to-peer counselling and say that they don’t feel sick enough to get help. This feeling leads many students to not get the help they need before mental health concerns become more serious.

 

“If you’re just feeling kind of funky and can’t get out of bed and don’t want to have a shower and get dressed, just give them a call, you don’t have to have a diagnosis, just go and reach out, it’ll be okay,” said Fennel

 

As of December 1, SWAC, in partnership with Morneau Shepell counselling services, have launched an app called MySSP that students can access to chat 24/7 with a licensed counsellor. Support is available in English, French, Spanish and Simplified Chinese. Students can also book virtual appointments with counselors. 

 

The pandemic has affected all areas of our lives and that includes mental health. Students, in particular, have experienced a decline in mental health, so accessing these services may now be more important than ever for many people. 

 

“Globally, nationally, provincially, all kinds of data including from [Statistics Canada] tells us that mental health has been impacted for everyone, but more for youth and youth in the post-secondary system because of all sorts of challenges,” said Kassam. “It’s not just our institution or our community but all across the world and North America.”

 

“We need to forgive ourselves, at the beginning everyone had big projects and they were getting in shape and baking cookies. We don’t need to have that expectation that we’re going to come out of this new and better people,” said Fennel. 

 

Fennel hopes that individuals can begin to see their mental health as something that is just as important as their physical health and that is what she hopes the workshops and programming around Bell Let’s Talk day can help to accomplish. 

 

“You would go to the doctor if you had an ear infection or something chronic like diabetes and take care of yourself. If you have a mental health problem you should also go and see a doctor. It’s important to view those things as intertwined,” said Fennel.

Individuals can learn more about SWAC’s mental health services at https://brocku.ca/health-wellness-accessibility/. For urgent personal counselling, Brock students can call 1-833-276-2533 if calling from North America and 001 416 382 3257 if calling from outside North America. In the case of emergencies, always call 911.