The second annual York U Let’s Talk Mental Health Day, not only saw a strong turnout, it also generated good ideas for the University’s Mental Health and Wellness Strategy going forward.
The York U Let’s Talk Mental Health Day Jan. 28 was just the beginning of the conversation. February is Mental Health Awareness month and there will be a series of events coming up on everything from stress management and workplace wellness to opportunities to join the conversation.
At the Community Café on the Let’s Talk Mental Health day, the room was packed with students, staff and faculty participating in roundtable discussions about the University’s strategy. Each table came together to provide stories, insight and ideas on how to push the strategy further.
“York University is committed to taking a leadership role in the creation of a healthy campus,” said Lesley Beagrie, co-chair of the Mental Health Steering Group. “This Community Café is an opportunity for us to hear from you to help inform what a mentally healthy campus would look like…what would make a difference. What would help ensure that those with whom we work, learn, study, counsel and teach have a community that supports mental health and wellness.”
Suzanne Killick, co-chair of the Mental Health Steering Group, highlighted the two major accomplishments from last year – the mental health symposium and the training of 500 students in recognizing and supporting those with mental health issues. She then took the group through the five strategic priorities, which were then discussed at each table.
Some of the ideas highlighted included a one-stop shop for life and mental health issues, more visibility of resources, accessing first-year students in the classroom, training for faculty and staff to support students and having the tools readily available to start the conversation.
“It’s encouraging to me to see faculty, staff and students all come together today to discuss this issue,” said Gary Brewer, vice-president finance & administration.
The reason York embarked on a strategy for a mentally healthy campus, said Killick, was that “We understand wellness is a really important precondition to good learning within our academic environment and for our staff it is a precondition for a happy workplace.”
In addition, two sessions were held to inform the community about the Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities recently launched Good2Talk, (www.Good2Talk.ca, 1-866-925-5454 or connect through 2-1-1) a new bilingual, confidential and anonymous helpline. Through Good2Talk, Ontario’s postsecondary students can receive professional counselling, mental health information and referrals to resources on and off campus, 24/7/365.
There was also a Community Wellness and Safety Fair in Vari Hall organized by York’s Mental Health & Wellness Working Group and the Community Safety Council.
But as Killick said, “It doesn’t end here today. We have some really interesting things going on throughout the month of February.”
The first event will be a Stressbusters Carnival on Feb. 6, from 10am to 4pm, in the Lower Bear Pitt Central Square, Keele campus. For staff, there will be Fit For Life events happening during the month of February. Check the Mental Health & Wellness at York website for details.
There will also be a contest! Submit a creative piece of art – poetry, images, video, etc. – that captures what mental health and wellness looks like to you for a chance to win one of 10 prizes. Visit the Mental Health and Wellness at York Contest web page for all the details. The contest deadline is Feb. 24. Prizes will be awarded in March. The winning entries will be posted on York’s Mental Health & Wellness website.
Visit York’s Mental Health & Wellness at York website for more information.