York International spearheads mental health campaign for international students

York International (YI) launched #YIFeel, the mental health campaign for international students, in January 2018. The international student mental health awareness campaign aims to create broader awareness about mental health challenges faced by international students, and introduces the international student body to the many services available at York University.

Working closely with international students and campus partners, YI has been exploring approaches to initiate a conversation surrounding mental health among international students and extend the current resources in a way that truly supports the needs of the international student community at York.

In February 2019, YI launched the second phase of the campaign with a goal to mobilize the student body to extend the already existing support provided by York. International students often develop a sense of belonging through a transactional process by forming friendships with other international students, but can remain disengaged and disconnected from the larger community. Through this campaign, YI aims to connect international students to various mental health supports and set the stage for new possibilities for student engagement in this context.

“This campaign is important because it is creating progressive spaces for students to talk about their understanding of the concept of mental health and their experiences with it, and what can be done to further bridge the gaps in the mental health services provided,” says Vishwaveda, a YI global liaison.

The campaign provides a platform for students to share their stories and experiences about mental health using various components such as videos, blogs, visuals and a photo campaign. It aims to devise well-rounded strategies to demystify mental health at an individual and institutional level specific to the unique mental health needs of international students, with an understanding of the cultural differences they face. It also aligns with York’s Mental Health and Wellness Operational Plan (2016-19) that suggests an increase in accessibility of mental health services through engaging targeted units such as York International, Student Counselling & Development, and other areas that provide support to students.

For more information on #YIFeel, visit yorkinternational.yorku.ca/yifeel.