Mental health is as important as physical health. Yet, it’s not always easy for young people to ask for the help they need — negotiating transition to university, dealing with family problems and feeling emotionally or socially isolated at school.
That’s why UCC’s second annual Mental Health Week is a great way for all to shake off winter and spring clean your mind, April 14 to 17.
With a full slate of speakers and fun activities co-ordinated through the health centre, the message will be clear; it’s important to create greater awareness of mental-health resources and support services, and make conversation about mental-health challenges more comfortable for students to initiate. (It precedes the Canadian Mental Health Association’s national mental health week scheduled for the first week of May.)
“Boys come through the health centre with a range of mental health issues, from low level anxiety to serious depression,” says Upper School nurse Avia Peacock. “This week is about lifting stigma for those suffering with mental health issues — as well as to lighten up the atmosphere with some fun activities.”
Watch for a full schedule in upcoming communications. For now, here’s a taste of what’s in store. The week kicks off with a guest speaker in Monday morning assembly. Justin Scaini is the president of student engagement for the Jack Project, named for a Queen’s University student who unexpectedly died by suicide. The project’s stated goal is to “encourage young people to take care of themselves and their peers.”
Other events will include stress-busting yoga for students in phys-ed class on Monday, with a session for staff and faculty at lunch. And there’s a pizza and movie lunch on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.sponsored by the Gay Straight Alliance There’s an event for Intermediate Division about “mindfulness” plus massage chairs in the student center on Wednesday. Parents are invited to a special presentation on gaming addiction by the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the student centre. Weeklong events will include a “worry wall” where everyone can share tips for coping with stress and an art installation by student Mitchell Foo.
There are also two casual days. Monday is blue and white. Thursday is house colours. All proceeds will support the Jack Project, as will proceeds for lunchtime buskers, jugglers and massages, so have your change ready.
“Students often feel scared, isolated, and ashamed of what could be viewed as a ‘weakness’ by peers and teachers,” says Peacock. “Boys need to understand that perseverance and grit aren’t the only signifiers of ‘good character.’ There’s nothing wrong with admitting to sadness and anxiety and fear. We all struggle and have hardship.”