Connor Sclater knows firsthand the importance of maintaining positive mental health.
The fifth-year Concurrent Education student is one of four recipients of this year’s Brock University Wellness Award, a $1,130 bursary created from funds raised through the annual employee Wellness Day penny sale.
Sclater’s journey began in his first year at Brock. Like many new university students, he had a difficult time managing new academic and social challenges. He started exercising to clear his mind and made sure he was choosing nutritious food options, but despite making what he thought were healthy lifestyle decisions, he continued to experience anxiety and lost a significant amount of weight in a relatively short period of time.
After seeing his family doctor for a cold, Sclater was referred to specialists who diagnosed him with generalized anxiety disorder and atypical anorexia.
“My ability to deal with anxiety and stress isn’t at the same level of most people,” said Sclater. “I tried a little too hard to be healthy and over-exercised, so even though I was consuming the recommended 2,500 calories, I wasn’t actually eating enough and became malnourished.”
Since being diagnosed, Sclater has taken steps to manage his mental health.
“I’ve always strived to be the best I can, but I’ve learned that I don’t need to get top grades or always try to eat healthy,” he said. “For me, being my best is a mental health thing. I stopped worrying so much and let loose a little bit. I still work hard at my grades, but I don’t push myself to take on as many commitments as I used to.”
Sclater also takes rest days in between exercise routines and has prioritized spending time with friends.
“[His] application for the Brock University Wellness Award really stood out,” said Kathryn Walker, Manager, Health Management, who chose this year’s award recipients on behalf of the Wellness Day committee. “We were impressed with his volunteer experience in schools and youth camps, his professional certifications in safety- and mental health-related programs, and his aspiration to develop his passion for health and wellness by teaching a younger generation.”
The Brock University Wellness Award is provided annually to two or more Brock students who have made positive contributions within their community based on eight components of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, financial, environmental and occupational.
Joining Sclater as award recipients this year are Concurrent Education student Mattye Bologna, Nursing student Jake Sanchez and Business Administration student Mila Isabella Race.
Over the past year, Sclater has gained back much of what he lost and is still making progress. He continues to maintain a place on the Dean’s Honour Roll and is a member of the Brock University Golden Key International Honour Society.
He aspires to be a secondary school health and physical education teacher and plans to continue studying at Brock in the Master of Education program, which he hopes will prepare him for future leadership opportunities in a school board.
“I want to influence all aspects of student wellness, including physical activity, nutrition, positive lifestyle choices and maintaining mental health, not only through teaching, but by modelling these behaviours myself,” Sclater wrote in his award application. “Experiencing my own challenges has provided insight, empathy and sensitivity into helping others.”
Sclater is thankful for his family and friends who have helped him through his mental health journey and encourages those who are struggling to reach out for assistance.
“I used to downplay mental health, but now that I’m experiencing issues myself, I realize just how much of a role it plays in our overall health and well-being,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People care.”
Students seeking assistance with their mental health can drop in to Personal Counselling Services at ST 400 in Schmon Tower or phone 1-833-BROCK33 (1-833-276-2533) to book an appointment with a Morneau Shepell counsellor. Students can also book an appointment with a Student Health Services physician in Harrison Hall by phoning 905-688-5550 x3243.
Counselling services and other resources are available for eligible Brock employees through the University’s Employee and Family Assistance Program.