Despite an increasing awareness of mental health issues, a stigma continues to exist.
As Bell Let’s Talk Day approaches on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Brock University is undertaking several initiatives that will put mental health in the spotlight and engage students, faculty and staff to join the ongoing conversation.
Beginning this week in DeCew and Lowenberger residence dining halls, students are encouraged to colour murals adorned with mandalas and write how they destress on sticky notes. The murals and notes will be used on Bell Let’s Talk Day as part of a larger awareness initiative.
Free breakfast and cupcakes
Bell Let’s Talk Day will kick off at 7:30 a.m. in Isaac’s Bar and Grill with a free hot breakfast provided by the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU). Students who paid the BUSU fee will be treated to eggs, sausage, pancakes, French toast and home fries until 10 a.m. or when food runs out. BUSU will also be handing out free cupcakes in Isaac’s from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. During both giveaways, students will have the opportunity to write positive mental health messages on Bell Let’s Talk speech bubbles and learn more about how BUSU’s contributions improve mental health at Brock.
Paws Room and massages
The Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) will be hosting the popular Paws Room from 10 a.m. to noon in Pond Inlet. Students, staff and faculty members are welcome to pop in to visit with therapy dogs from Therapaws of Canada. Mini massages will also be available in Pond Inlet from 1 to 5 p.m.
Balloon frame photo ops, conversation café and free treats
In Market Hall, representatives from SWAC, Student Life and Community Experience, and Human Resources will be handing out free coffee, tea, snacks and support resources from noon to 3:30 p.m. An oversized blue and white picture frame made of balloons will be set up for photo opportunities, and passersby will be encouraged to write positive mental health messages on speech bubbles for display on a nearby wall.
At the same time, SWAC will be launching Reach Out, a new campaign funded by BUSU that educates students about mental health distress signs, conversation starters and listening techniques. A conversation café will offer an opportunity for people to ask questions about mental health and learn how to refer students at risk.
Across campus at the International Centre, ESL Services will be hosting an information and games booth set up next to Noodles.
Mug decorating, Instax photo booth and destress stickies
The Department of Residences is hosting a mug decorating event from 2 to 5 p.m. in DeCew and Lowenberger dining halls. Students will be encouraged to write positive quotes and messages on mugs they can keep.
A photo booth display featuring student-coloured mandala murals, balloons and props will also be set up in both residence dining halls from 2 to 5 p.m. Instax cameras, balloons and props will be available for students to take instant film photos of themselves in front of the murals.
Students will also be encouraged to take sticky notes with tips from other students on how to de–stress.
Badgers games and fan giveaways
Brock’s Bell Let’s Talk initiatives continue into the evening at the Brock Badgers basketball games against York University. The women’s team tips off at 6 p.m. in the Bob Davis Gymnasium, followed by the men’s team at 8 p.m.
Before the games begin, fans can take photos with a large balloon frame and write positive messages on a banner set up at a table in the hallway outside of the gym. During the game, attendees will receive free Bell Let’s Talk inflatable noisemakers and a have a chance to win free giveaways, including Bell Let’s Talk winter hats during a toque toss.
Movie night with cookie and cupcake decorating
The Department of Residences will be hosting a movie night beginning at 8 p.m. in Earp Fireplace Lounge. Popcorn and snacks will be provided, as well as cupcakes and cookies for students to decorate.
#BellLetsTalk social media initiatives
The Brock community is encouraged to share photos on social media with the #BellLetsTalk and #BrockU hashtags. For every tweet sent on Wednesday, Jan. 29 with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, Bell will donate five cents to mental health initiatives. Bell will also donate five cents every time:
- their official video is watched on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat
- their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter is used
- a Bell customer texts or makes a long-distance phone call
Continuing mental health initiatives
Although Bell Let’s Talk Day ends with the movie night and Badgers games, Brock’s mental health initiatives continue for several weeks.
Every Monday and Tuesday evening until Feb. 11, students are invited to drop by Open Door, a free and confidential peer-to-peer mental wellness support and referral program offered by third-year Nursing students. January programming takes place from 4 to 7:30 p.m. in ST 231 in the Matheson Learning Commons and February programming takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. in TH 134 at the Student Wellness HUB.
Peer-to-peer mental wellness support through SWAC is also available at the HUB from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Four complimentary mental health workshops will be taking place the week of Bell Let’s Talk, beginning with The Working Mind, a training session led by Human Resources for employee managers, on Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in PLZ 600F. Suicide Intervention for Weirdos, Freaks and Queers is being offered by Human Rights and Equity on Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in Sankey Chamber. Human Resources is also hosting Mental Health First Aid — Youth and SWAC is leading Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. Both are two-day workshops available to anyone in the Brock community, each taking place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30 and Friday, Jan. 31.
For more information on mental health resources available to students, visit the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre website. Brock faculty and staff can visit the Human Resources SharePoint page.