Join the conversation, start talking about mental health

Lesley Beagrie listens in to roundtable discussion

Mental health and well-being is what people strive for every day and for everyone in their lives, says Lesley Beagrie, co-chair of York University’s Mental Health Steering Group. However, 500,000 Canadians miss work every day as a result of some form of mental illness (Mental Health Commission of Canada) and one in five Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness in their lives, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Lesley Beagrie listens in to roundtable discussion at the Community Cafe on Let's Talk Mental Health Day at York
Lesley Beagrie listens in to a roundtable discussion at the Community Cafe on York U Let’s Talk Mental Health Day

“That means that each of us probably knows someone, is a parent of someone, works with someone, or is someone who is struggling with mental health challenges,” says Beagrie. “But we don’t talk about it!” Why do people find it easier to tell others when they have a stomach flu or headache and not when they are feeling lonely, overwhelmed or unable to climb out of bed each day?

“It is time to have the conversation about mental health on our campus – our colleagues, our students, our staff – our community. Through sharing stories, actively listening to each other and providing a welcoming space to work and learn we can help end the stigma and shed some light on mental health,” says Beagrie. This week’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Month is Join the Conversation.

Learn more about wellness tips and resources on and off campus by visiting the Mental Health & Wellness at York website and think about one thing to do this week that will start a conversation with a campus colleague about mental health and wellness!

This is what one staff member said: Through these experiences, and the people who, through their writing, in person, or both, have shared their own experiences, insights and compassion, I have come to understand that in easing each other’s burdens, we ease our own – it’s just that simple! So even though there is no “cure” for what is essentially the human condition, I believe it is this more than anything else that we need to do, SHARE with one another (and laughter, of course!) [and] compassion for our spirits’ pain. It is the greatest balm that we can offer one another.

The community is invited to post their own thoughts on what York can do to help create a mentally healthy campus at the Wall Testimonial on large sheets of paper that will be posted on the walls in Central Square, Keele campus. The community is also invited to post their thoughts on Twitter at #YUMENTALHEALTH.

The Wall Testimonial will take place in Central Square (near the Retirement Planning Centre) Wednesday, Feb.12, from 10am to 2pm; Twitter postings are welcome all week. Postings on York’s Mental Health and Wellness Facebook page are also welcome.