Mental Well-Being Week officially launched at Ryerson Monday, showcasing resources and opportunities available to students suffering with mental health issues.
The opening ceremony began with a prayer and speech by counsellor Joanne Dallaire, a Cree Omushkego elder and counsellor.
Dallaire cited aboriginal customs such as sweat lodges and vision quests that aim to free an individual from pain or mental issues. She stressed the importance of treating negative emotions or feelings as a normal part of being human.
“Suicidal or homicidal thoughts are normal, that’s why we shouldn’t deny them…whatever you may be thinking, whatever it is you’re hoping, is far more natural than you can believe,” she said.
The campaign, dubbed “Continue the Conversation”, will take place over three days, featuring the return of therapy dogs, exam and essay writing workshops, and poetry and artistic sessions to create “less stress and more smiles” across campus.
Other initiatives and resources were announced in order to foster support for students suffering with mental health issues.
One of those is hiring nine part-time interns in an effort to reduce wait times for counselling sessions. Last year, an overwhelming increase in requests for appointments left students waiting six months to a year for a counsellor – a record high from the regular four-month maximum in the past.
Ryerson Mental Well-Being, a new website launched by the Ryerson Mental Health Advisory Committee, aims to connect “Ryerson students, staff and faculty, and families of students to get help, help others, and/or find out more about mental wellbeing,” according to the site.
Another initiative called the “Awesomeness Wall”, located near POD-60 cafeteria lounge, is a board that will allow students to write inspirational quotes, song lyrics, or mental health tips on sticky notes. Liz Wood, fourth-year graphic communications management student and co-president of the student group Students for Mental Awareness Support and Health (SMASH), adapted the idea from jack.org, an organization hoping to end stigma on mental health, and hopes it will contribute to improve the mental well-being of students.
“If you see a motivational quote that really made your day, that makes a huge difference in someone’s stressful student life,” she said.
The wall is going to be on display for the three days events are taking place.
Mental Well Being Week will run from Nov. 10 through Nov. 12. A full list of events is available here.