Mental Health Advisory Committee panelists from left: co-chair Su-Ting Teo, Denise O’Neil Green and co-chair Myra Lefkowitz. Oct. 24, 2013. (Diana Hall/Ryersonian).

By Emily Westover

Students and faculty had an opportunity to suggest ways of dealing with mental health needs on campus this afternoon.

As part of mental well-being week, Ryerson’s Mental Health Advisory Committee held a town hall discussion, where they talked about developing strategies.

The event was facilitated by Ryerson alumna Valerie Pringle. Panelists were committee co-chairs Su-Ting Teo and Myra Lefkowitz, committee member Matthew Cwihun, and assistant VP of equity, diversity and inclusion, Denise O’Neil Green.

Liz Wood, a third-year graphics and communications management student, was the first to share her idea. “I think it’s important to start a student-for-student support group on campus” she said. “Peer support can go a long way.”

Peer support may be necessary while the counselling centre struggles to keep up with high demand. “There are several people in severe crises who get priority. Unfortunately that means the wait-list for less severe cases gets longer and longer” said Teo. “Promotion is on ongoing struggle. It’s hard to reach out to everybody.”

When it comes to promotion strategies, Cwihun says an interactive website would help connect students and faculty resources. “We’re all walking around with electronic devices. Having an interactive feature on the website regarding mental health is valuable, cost efficient, and everybody wins.”

Devon Stoyka, a Ryerson alumna who identified herself as a “mad student,” spoke about her struggle to find support on campus. “I was in crisis and I screamed at my RA. All he said to me was ‘I’m sorry you’re going to have to be quiet, it’s quiet hour.’” she said. “Mental health is not something to be quiet about.”

Other strategies discussed included implementing a Mental Well-Being Statement of Commitment, a campus-wide policy, and creating a culture of caring at an administrative level.


LIVE BLOG: The future of Ryerson’s mental health strategy

The Mental Health Advisory Committee’s interim report can be found here

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