The Elephant in the Room #BellLetsTalk

…30 years ago the University of Guelph brought down its flags to half-mast to mourn a life that was taken too soon. Fast forward to the 2016-2017 school year and we’ve repeated this mourning process four more times within the past four months. Currently, the average post-secondary institution is required to have two mandatory reading weeks in a year to prevent extreme stress levels, resulting in increased untreated mental illnesses. This is likely to be a strategy that will be implemented on our campus within the next year even though our referendum vote two years ago had most students in favour of only keeping one reading week in the Winter. Somewhere over the years, a huge stigma has developed around the idea of mental illnesses and the ability to discuss them as well as get through them. Especially on an educational campus where a lot more people are struggling in silence because they don’t feel like their voice will be heard when they attempt to reach out to someone. But here’s the thing to remember, someone will always care, even if you’ve tried to talk to someone before and they brush you off, try going to someone else, or even try going to the same person at another time, in a different environment. Mental illness sees no barriers, it does not matter your gender, your race, ethnicity, sexuality, anyone can fall a victim to mental illness and everyone should be able to use their resources to reach their full potential. Someone will always be willing to listen, just find them.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day! Today is your day to take on the world with Clara Hughes. Join the conversation to help end the stigma and increase funding for mental health. For every social media post using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5 cents more to mental health initiatives in Canada.

Never believe that you need to be silent, do not convince yourself that no one cares, because I can already tell you that you’re wrong if you think so. If you feel you cannot confide in anyone you’re close to, go to drop-in support hours, or use an online resource, but do not neglect your own well-being. You are your priority, your life can’t go on without you. 


What’s the University of Guelph doing to support the cause?

January 16 is #YellowIsForHelloDay. Guelph is currently in the process of trying to get a friendship bench, an actionable program that encourages student-to-student conversations about mental health.

Today January 25, 2017, the fitness center is open to all students for use. Exercising actually releases endorphins to your brain which instantly makes you feel better, it can be a great first step to taking care of yourself. Regularly exercising can have a largely positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also aids in relieving stress, improving memory, helping you sleep better, and boosts overall moods.

We have a great online resource that is trusted, anonymous, and provides great information if you need a starting point to figure out what may be going on inside your head! Head over to Feeling Better Now and take a survey that can give you information to find a starting point to talk to a friend about your struggles, or to show a doctor to discuss your options. 

We have many accessible resources on campus, whether you’d prefer to talk to a friend face-to-face or a stranger either online or in person we have many resources, such as: Counselling Services, the Student Support NetworkStudent Health Services, the Wellness Education Centre, the Mental Well-being Website, and Student Life.

If you find that you’ve made an appointment to talk to someone but it feels too far away, just remember there is always another resource. For the time being, you can reach out to friends, family, acquaintances, or even an approachable stranger. 

You can also call Good2Talk (1-866-925-5454) or Here 24/7 (1-844-437-3247) for full 24-hour access to support, or you can call the 24-hour student housing service desks: Prairie Hall (519-824-4120 x58123) and Lennox Addington Residence (519-824-4120 x58122).

Lastly, you never know what kind of battle someone is fighting, so hold that door open for the stranger, say thank you to the slow cashier, smile at the girl that doesn’t appear to be approachable. People will always surprise you, it never hurts to be kind. 

Learn about other ways you can participate today here.

Take that first step and get the help you need.