As Bell Let’s Talk Day approaches, Brock University has planned several initiatives to encourage its community of students and employees to openly discuss mental health and learn about the variety of wellness resources available year-round.
The annual nationwide awareness day is set to take place Wednesday, Jan. 25 with a focus on raising funds for mental health and inspiring people to share their mental health experiences and offer support for others.
In recognition of the day, members of the Brock community are invited to pop by Market Hall from 1 to 3 p.m. for refreshments, snacks, live music and self-care stations, such as wellness planning. A table will be set up for participants to write messages about mental health on large conversation bubbles and place the paper notes on the wall for everyone to read and take inspiration from. Bell Let’s Talk toques, reusable bags, lanyards and gratitude journals will also be handed out. The initiatives are led by Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre (SWAC) in partnership with Student Life and Success and Residence Life.
Toques, gratitude journals and rally towels will also be handed out at Brock Badgers athletic games on Friday, Jan. 27: men’s hockey at 6 p.m. at Canada Games Park, and women’s and men’s volleyball in the Bob Davis Gymnasium at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively. Tables will be set up at each location offering spectators mental health support information and an opportunity to write messages in conversation bubbles.
SWAC Health Promotion Educator Julie Fennell hopes participants will come away from the events with new tools for their self-care toolbox and keep the conversation going to help reduce the stigma around mental health.
“Not only is it important for students and employees to know about the resources available to help themselves and others, it’s also crucial we cultivate a culture where it’s normal to discuss mental health struggles openly and honestly,” she said. “People need to be comfortable reaching out to support each other.”
The SWAC team has seen an increase in the need for mental health support over the past several years. In Student Health Services, the need for mental health nurses has increased 127 per cent in the past six years. Over this same time period, the number of students requesting personal counselling services at Brock has more than doubled.
“If you’re worried a friend or family member is struggling with their mental health, ask them if they are OK,” said Fennell. “It starts the conversation and demonstrates you care.”
Fennell also suggests taking the time to listen with intent to understand the full story and then work together to find the most appropriate resources — on campus for students, via health plans for employees or through local organizations.
Brock’s Health Management Consultant Martina Ciglenecki said kindness is key when supporting others.
“Simply recognizing that people have bad days and that it’s OK to not be OK is a step in the right direction,” she said.
Kindness is a theme this month as the University kicked off its annual employee kindness initiative. Along with following a workplace kindness calendar, Brock employees are encouraged to share messages of positivity, encouragement, acknowledgement, appreciation or gratitude with their colleagues this month via the Be Mindful platform.
“So many of us experience days where we doubt our capabilities, feel overwhelmed or experience mental health struggles,” Ciglenecki said. “Sometimes a positive comment or a kind gesture can go a long way in supporting someone’s day.”
Employees interested in learning more about mental health in the workplace can register for free mental health training. Upcoming sessions of The Working Mind are listed on ExperienceBU. (Employees need to be logged in to see upcoming events.)
In recognition of Bell Let’s Talk Day and the ongoing need for mental health supports, the Brock Campus Store will be donating 10 per cent of its net proceeds of general merchandise sales from Monday, Jan. 23 to Friday, Jan. 27 to the Brock Student Mental Health Fund.
Individuals wishing to support the fund can donate online.
Student mental health resources
Students seeking mental health and personal counselling support can access professional licensed counsellors 24-7 through the ‘My Student Support Program (My SPP)’ mobile app. Free and confidential real-time text chat and telephone support is available in five languages.
In addition to live and immediate support, the app also offers an extensive library of mental health and well-being resources, including articles, podcasts, infographics and videos; unlimited free access to the virtual fitness app LIFT; and anonymous evidence-based self-assessments that can help students identify risks for mental health issues such as depression, general anxiety and addiction.
The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play. When creating a profile, students should enter ‘Brock University Student Counselling Program’ as the school.
Same-day, drop-in mental health support is also available. More resources and information are available on the SWAC website.
Employee mental health resources
Employee wellness resources are available on the Health, Safety and Wellness Toolbox on SharePoint.
Employees interested in wellness events being offered throughout the year are invited to join the Employee Wellness Yammer community and the Health, Safety and Wellness organization on ExperienceBU to connect with colleagues and stay up to date on new event postings. (Employees may need to log in to ExperienceBU before being able to click on the blue ‘join’ button.)
Questions about employee wellness resources and ideas for future wellness workshops can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Community mental health resources for students and employees
Therapist-guided cognitive-behavioural therapy sessions are available for free to all Ontario residents through Mind Beacon, thanks to funding from the Ontario government. The website also offers a wide range of articles and virtual events related to mental wellness.
Community mental health supports and resources are also listed on SWAC website and Health, Safety and Wellness Toolbox on SharePoint.
Brock University Campus Security Services can be reached by calling 905-688-5550 x3200 (crisis) or x4300 (non-crisis).