Mental Health on Campus
Last week, the windows along Redeemer’s halls were covered with encouraging words and drawings as part of Redeemer’s Stress Relief Week. It was the second of two weeks focused on mental health, put on by the Healthcare Club.
Throughout last week, there was art therapy, yoga, a flu shot information booth, and mental health tips offered in the Commons. Three puppies came to the squash court to meet Redeemer students and helped reduce stress with wagging tails.
“The purpose was to get people to think about their own mental health and to offer ways to take care of one’s self. Our aim was to raise awareness about what we can do to improve mental health,” says John Handal, President of the Healthcare Club. “Just talking about it helps reduce the stigma.”
Mental Health Week, which took place from October 5 to 9, offered similar activities. In Chapel and workshops, Redeemer hosted two special guest speakers who shared about their individual experiences living with mental illness. Other opportunities included a nutritionist who talked with people in the hall, window art, and a mental health booth.
These events are not the only opportunities for students to connect on the subject of mental health; every Monday, the Youth Wellness Centre Mobile Mental Health Network leads a workshop in Room 211.
According to the Redeemer Mental Health Survey sent out last year (the results of which are based on 187 respondents), the main sources of stress for Redeemer students are time, school, and money.
Stress can have a big impact on mental wellness.
“Not all stress is bad,” says Karen Cornies, Dean of Students. “Some stress is motivational. It’s important to identify whether one is experiencing the kind of stress that lessens one’s capacity or not.”
“Mental health has lots of variables. It’s important to be self-aware,” says Hennie Schoon, Redeemer’s Community Life Director.
Students should pay attention to what stresses are causing mental unwellness and see if there’s a correlation. Schoon says: “Use time to observe, and see if there is a cause other than stress.”
Students are worrying about having too little time and too many assignments. And although students joke about their debt, it is a big concern for many.
“Everyone acts like debt is okay, but we need to deal with this. We aren’t educated in talking about these things,” says alumna Angela Goodwin.
Goodwin who helped found the Healthcare club last year. The club, along with other Redeemer bodies such as the Mental Health Committee, is taking steps to reduce stigma and initiate conversations.
Goodwin was also behind the Mental Health Survey. The intent was that Redeemer could use the survey to better understand the mental health of its student body.
The survey reported some encouraging information. Students surveyed had good sleeping habits, and compared to international data, incidents of sexual assault were low. Other information was concerning. One third of respondents said that they had self-harmed. Three quarters said that they hide the way they feel from the people in their lives (some or all of the time).
For students facing mental illness, talking about it with others and seeking help can be difficult.
“There can be barriers to reaching out for resources. We understand it’s a struggle to reach out when you’re feeling vulnerable,” says Cornies. “There’s a stigma involved. It’s hard to recognize in yourself that you need attention.”
Redeemer offers a wide range of resources for students — or students who are concerned for a friend. Any member of the Student Life staff — Karen, Hennie, or Kait — is eager to help and to direct students to a service. Shalem Mental Health Network provides free counselling (on or off campus). The Mobile Mental Health team is available on-campus every Monday. COAST is a 24/7 crisis line.
As students seek mental wellness, it’s important to remember that it is not isolated. “It’s about overall well-being,” says Handal. “People don’t know as much about mental health. They put it to the side. They don’t always make the connection between physical and mental health.”
Well-rounded self-care can be a key component in health. Neglecting any one aspect, such as spiritual, emotional, physical, or mental, can reduce overall health.
Note: If reading this article has raised any concerns for you, or you experienced a response to this information, please reach out to Shalem, the Mobile Mental Health Team, Student Life, or friends and family.
Karen Cornies, ext 4468
Hennie Schoon, ext 4466
Kait Hazzard, ext 4219
MMHT — firstname.lastname@example.org
Shalem — email@example.com OR 905.528.0353 or 1.866.347.0041