As important as it is to get the conversation about mental health started, it’s equally important to keep it going.
To ensure meaningful discussions continue at Brock University, the Active Minds club has presented the institution with a symbolic ‘Convo Plate.’
The decorative dish is intended to not only spark mental health conversations, but to also inspire people to do something for their mental health every day.
“Passing the plate means you are raising awareness for mental health and want to be a part of the conversation,” said Active Minds President Michelle Balge, who recently presented the gift to Sarah Pennisi, Director of Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC).
The Paul Hansell Foundation, an organization committed to raising youth mental health awareness, created the #ConvoPlate movement in hopes of seeing the dishes make their way around the world.
They have since found homes with a number of influential people, including mental health advocate Margaret Trudeau, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. A plate is also on its way to Kensington Palace for Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Balge, who is set to graduate this fall with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, is currently an intern at the Paul Hansell Foundation.
“I hope Brock recognizes that conversations about mental health need to happen every day,” she said. “Whether the plate is passed on to someone else, another school or if it stays at Brock to generate discussions here, the plate will be doing its job. Although passes are encouraged, if a plate is kept somewhere that can spark conversations, then it is getting just as much use there as it would be anywhere else.”
Sarah Pennisi, Director of Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, felt the passing of the plate helped to recognize her team as important contributors to students’ mental health.
“We understand the vital work of fighting stigma through conversation and engagement,” she said. “It is stigma that may prevent students from reaching out when they need support.”
Pennisi said she is honoured to have received the plate from the Active Minds club.
The plate will be put on display in an area to help generate discussion, though the exact placement has yet to be decided.
“We need to encourage people to take care of their mental health just as much as their physical health,” Balge said. “With increased awareness, programs and education, we can hopefully help people to get access to treatment sooner.”
Brock is celebrating Mental Health Week from May 1 to 7 with a series of events taking place on campus. A full list of activities is available in a recent Brock News story.