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With Bell Let’s Talk Day and Thrive Week both occurring this week, there’s no better time to become better acquainted with the mental health club Bridging the Gap. This week I connected with their Co-Presidents to gain a better understanding of all that Bridging the Gap does for the Laurier student community.

Club Name:

Bridging the Gap

Club Contact Info:

Instagram: @bridgingthegaplaurier

Facebook: Bridging the Gap

Email: bridgingthegaplaurier@gmail.com

Answers provided by:

Domenique Barbaro, 4th Year Health Sciences, Co-President

Anna Healy, 4th Year Health Sciences, Co-President

Can you please explain what Bridging the Gap is, for anyone who doesn’t already know?

Bridging the Gap is a student-run mental health club on campus. We strive to bridge the gap between the stigma surrounding mental health and the realities of it. We are a club dedicated to mental health education, awareness and supporting Laurier students.

When and why did you first get involved with Bridging the Gap?

Anna: Mental health has always been a part of my life, so when I saw a poster in my first year I immediately joined and have been in it since then. I wanted to use my own personal experiences with mental health to help those around me. I wanted to use this platform to be a light to those around me, to spur on those who are suffering or supporting someone who is suffering and to help raise awareness and education surrounding mental health especially on the Laurier campus.

Dom: I joined Bridging the Gap in 2018 to pay homage to my little sister’s journey to wellness. I wanted to take my experience with having a loved one facing mental illness and turn it into a positive learning lesson that I could use to help and support other students. Being on this club and working with Anna to create events and ideas that support students is the most rewarding and fulfilling experience. I am so thankful to be a part of something so special.

What has Bridging the Gap done so far this year that you are proud of?

Bridging the Gap has had a really strong presence on social media platforms and we have ran two successful Speak Ups, one for the Fall Thrive Week and another for Movember that emphasized the importance of men’s mental health. The “Speak Up” is our signature event. We open the floor to Laurier students to come to the microphone and tell their mental health story and journey to wellness, or listen to other students. We invite Delton Glebe Counselling Centre to ensure the event is a safe and comfortable space for students that attend. The event is such an emotional, raw and inspiring experience. It really changes your perspective on what mental health is and really emphasizes its importance for students on campus and in the greater community.

What is the club currently working on for people to get excited about?

We have many exciting upcoming events this semester! For Thrive Week we are running a Speak Up event on Bell Let’s Talk Day called Laurier Let’s Talk. A night of speakers, open floor speaking, workshops and food! The evening is on Wednesday January 29th at 7PM in the Paul Martin Centre. We are also in the midst of finalizing events such as a Mental Health & Wellness Panel with professors at Laurier, as well as a Leanne Holland Brown tribute to honour her and her work with Bridging The Gap.

What has been your favourite thing about your involvement with Bridging the Gap?

Anna: My favourite thing about being involved with Bridging the Gap is seeing students who have never even met open up to each other about their most vulnerable moments at our Speak Up events. It warms my heart to see students being able to share and speak about their mental health journey, stopping the stigma and bringing hope one story at a time.

Dom: My favourite part about this club is seeing the excitement and participation among the student body. I also love to meet new people and hear their stories. I get to hear so many courageous and positive experiences coming from the students when they speak about their journey to wellness. It’s amazing.

If anyone reading this were interested in joining Bridging the Gap, how should they go about doing this?

We are very open to having general members involved with our club and we love to have a big team of mental health advocates (hence why we have a 23-person executive/VP team). If you are interested, send us an email or Instagram/Facebook message and we can add you to our mailing list.  In early March we will be hiring a brand-new team as a lot of us are sadly graduating. We are very excited to see all the new applicants and urge whoever is passionate and wishes to be involved to apply!

If you could make it so that every Laurier student knew at least one thing about Bridging the Gap, what would you want that one thing to be?

It would be to know and believe that you are never alone in your mental health journey. Do not be afraid to ask for help or reach out because there are so many available resources right at your fingertips. You don’t need to go through this alone. Join Bridging the Gap today to stop the stigma and to keep the conversation going!

Rebecca is in her 5th year at Wilfrid Laurier University.  During the school year, she can be found drinking copious amounts of kombucha, watching hockey and procrastinating on Pinterest. She joined HCWLU as an editor in the Winter 2018 semester, and after serving as one of the Campus Correspondents in 2019-20, she is excited to be returning for the 2020-21 school year! she/her