Bust your stress during Mental Health Awareness Month

Students having fun in the Winters College lounge

Are you stressed? Feeling down? Take advantage of the many activities happening at York University to help bust that stress and improve your mood during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn to meditate, do something kind, laugh and just have a bit of fun.

New College's positive posts
New College’s positive posts

Acts of Kindness: York’s colleges are promoting random acts of kindness all month long, a simple practice that can help foster personal and collective happiness. “Spending mere minutes asking ‘How can I be helpful today?’ and implementing small acts of kindness can produce measurable improvements in our physical and emotional well-being,” says Myriam Mongrain, master of Calumet College. “We search for ways to improve our lives, and often forget that meaning and purpose lies in the connection between ourselves and those around us.”

Calumet College Pass it on pledge posterBuild on and use what’s already within your reach and be kind towards someone today. “What goes around comes around,” says Mongrain. “So help one person today. You’ll be glad you did.” Calumet and Stong colleges will hand out Hershey chocolate kisses and hugs and green tea bags Feb. 12, and Bethune College will have hot chocolate and fruit, while Vanier will also offer hot chocolate.

The Founders College community is no stranger to random acts of kindness. On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the master, along with members of Student Council, will roam the halls of Founders with a treat cart of coffee, tea, juice and cookies. The conversations will be about community, kindness and mental health awareness.

From left, Kaitlin Malfara, vice-president finance, Founders College Student Council and Professor Maria Joao Dodman at a Chit Chat event
From left: Kaitlin Malfara, vice-president finance, Founders College Student Council; and Professor Maria Joao Dodman at a Founders College Chit Chat event

Get your Positivity: Pass it ON! (PPON) wristbands in the lobbies of Stong and Bethune, and in the Junior Common Room, 100 Calumet, in Vanier College, as well as in other colleges including Vanier,  McLaughlin, Winters and Founders. They will also be distributed in Vari Hall on Feb. 12.

The PPON wristbands are to help change perceptions of mental health issues from an individual to a social problem. Brighten someone’s day, compliment them, give them a wristband and ask them to do the same for another stranger to encourage compliments and positivity to travel across campus. Share your positive interaction on Twitter using the hashtag #PPON.

Stong and Calumet are also collecting food for students in need. There will also be a message wall for students to write positive Post-its and a mural for handprints to “Give Yourself a High Five.” Make a pledge to be compassionate through one small act of kindness by signing the collage board. You can also post a positive note on the writing wall in the lobby of Bethune and on the Student Ombuds Services office glass. Check out New College for similar uplifting support.

Vanier College laugh-a-thon poster

The Funnies – Stand Up Comedy

Laughter is a great stress reliever. Need a good laugh? Come to The Funnies – Stand Up Comedy and show your funny side, share a joke and enjoy listening to others on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 1:30pm at 320 Bethune College. Students, professors and staff will each deliver one joke. Bring your own joke and practise your delivery. RSVP by filling out The Funnies form.

In addition, Vanier College will be hosting the first annual Vanier College Laugh-a-Thon in support of mental health at York. Students are invited to share their funniest videos. The daily video that receives the most “likes” will win a prize. At the end of the month, the 12 winning entries will be entered into a larger competition.

Free meditation for students

Meditation is another way to help beat stress. Attend free meditation sessions either in person or online, valued at $300, as part of the Healthy Student Initiative (healthystudentinitiative.com) at York. Meditation can relax the body and the mind.

Learn to meditate poster

Sessions are Monday to Thursday from noon to 1pm at 102 Behavioural Science Building and Fridays from noon to 1pm at 309 Stong College. Online meditation sessions are Tuesdays from 4 to 5pm and 9 to 10pm, Wednesdays from 9 to 10pm and Thursdays from 7 to 8pm and 9 to 10pm.

These student stress-buster activities are an important part of York University’s mental health and awareness strategy.


York’s Mental Health and Wellness Committee wants to know how you maintain your well-being. Visit York’s mental health website (mhw.info.yorku.ca/five-ways-to-wellbeing) to learn more about the five ways to well-being – be active, take notice, keep learning, give and connect. Enter your self-care tips and tricks to be eligible to win a $50 Starbucks gift card. The contest closes March 31.

Safe Talk training session

York University’s Mental Health and Wellness strategy strives to help build capacity to support community members in mental wellness, including both training and education. On Feb. 19, from 1 to 4pm, safeTALK training will be offered to all students, faculty and staff at York.

SafeTALK helps to prepare individuals to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. Most people with thoughts of suicide invite help to stay safe. Alert helpers know how to use these opportunities to support that desire for safety.

To register, contact Leah State at lstate@yorku.ca of Health Education and Promotion (healthed.scld.yorku.ca) or visit the Mental Health and Wellness at York (mhw.info.yorku.ca/training) website for more information.