A photo of organizers at Mindfest 2015 (Courtesy University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry)

On Wednesday, Ryerson students and community members will have a chance to participate in the fourth annual Mindfest as part of National Mental Illness Awareness Week.

The full-day event aims to start conversations around mental illness and to engage students in learning about mental health in fun and interactive ways. Mindfest is a collaboration between the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, York University and the Ontario College of Art and Design University.

“They can get a fun day where they learn about things or hear stories about people who have struggled and are now living full happy lives, so some inspiration,” said Lindsay Curtis, a communications co-ordinator for U of T’s psychiatry department, which is one of Mindfest’s organizers.

Curtis said the goal of Mindfest is to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness and provide students with ways to explore mental health and mindfulness beyond a lecture hall. The day’s events will start at U of T and move to Ryerson in the afternoon.

While there are many events happening on Wednesday, here are six to check-out:

Japanese Paper Marbling — 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Reading Room at UofT

Japanese paper marbling (known as Suminagashi) is a relaxing alternative to regular painting. It’s the process of marbling a plain piece of paper with water and ink to transform it into something vibrant and colourful, similar to the patterns of marble. The workshop will be a great way to destress and learn an ancient artform at the same time.

Gaming and Mental Health Hackathon — 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Committee’s Room at UofT

CEO of TranQool, a startup therapy service that connects clients to therapists online, Chakameh Shafii will be introducing different types of games and their impact on our mental health. Attendees will be able to design a game at the workshop that better focuses on building mental health in teams. Whoever designs the best game will also win $300 in credits to use online at TranQool.


Mental Health and Magic — 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Music Room at U of T

Dr. Bruce Ballon, both an illusionist and associate professor at U of T’s psychiatry department, will wow and educate audiences about mentalism, gambling and addiction. During his magic show and talk, he’ll be demonstrating illusion tricks and therapy initiatives to engage with audiences about tough subjects concerning mental illness.

Fight the stigma, and other engaging booths — 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Gould Street

Coming from the mindfulness walk at U of T, Ryerson students can learn what kinds of mental health services are available on campus. One booth to check out is Ryerson’s Students for Mental Awareness, Support & Health, where they’ll have a “smash the stigma” game played with small cages made with caramel that will break apart when hit, representing breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. Mindfest committee members will also be engaging students in body wellness with hula hoop dancing. Gould street will be filled with food, games and lots of information about mental illness offered to any student in need of support.

Check out Ryerson’s speakers — 5:30 p.m. Gould and Victoria (outside the campus bookstore)

At the final event of the festival at Ryerson, President Lachemi will be giving welcome remarks to a series of speakers. One of the speakers to tune into is Tamera Jones, vice-president of equity at the Ryerson Students’ Union, and her message on the importance of community support. Phyllis McKenna will also be doing a keynote presentation on student mental health and sharing her personal stories about the topic.

A documentary for NHL fans and sexual abuse survivors — 7 p.m. at TIFF Bell Lightbox

Cap off your night with a film! If you’re a hockey fan, you might appreciate Swift Current. The documentary centres around former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy and his story as a survivor of sexual abuse and childhood trauma. It’s a story of inspiration for anyone who’s looking to learn more about sexual abuse and bring awareness to the subject.

You can find full details and a list of the events happening at Mindfest on: mindfest.ca

If you’re in need of any help, mental health services are available on campus. Browse through our interactive map to see a complete list of services.

Oriena Vuong is a journalist based in Toronto. She's worked in all sectors of reporting from print and online to video. She enjoys writing about the arts, lifestyle and anything to do with comedy.

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