CCRLA Student Mental Health Matters series

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The Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action (CCRLA) held the first speaker in their student mental health series that will be ongoing throughout the 2019-2020 school year. The event was a talk from Simon Coulombe, an assistant professor at Laurier and director of CCRLA’s Flourishing Communities research group.

The series is focused on dealing with issues regarding mental health and ways to cope in different ways, with the first installment of the series titled “What matters to me? How personal goals enhance health and well-being.”

“Part of the research that I’m doing is trying to understand better how we can help people promote their wellbeing and how we can create environments that promote wellbeing and positive mental health, so I felt this was totally aligned with my research and my goals,” said Simon Coulombe, assistant professor and speaker for the event.

“As part of the research that I do I also use my experiential knowledge, in the history of my life I’ve had to deal with anxiety problems so it’s always something that I’m happy to share to try and reduce the stigma; we know there are so many students, faculty and staff at Laurier snd really in any setting these days there are so many people dealing with mental health issues.”

The talk was a partnership between CCRLA and the Laurier department of health sciences, as both parties have a heavy focus on the wellbeing in human beings from both a psychological and physical aspect, as Coulombe merged his own experience with research to give the talk.

Part of the research that I’m doing is trying to understand better how we can help people promote their wellbeing and how we can create environments that promote wellbeing and positive mental health, so I felt this was totally aligned with my research and my goals.

— Simon Coulombe, assistant professor

“I believe that the idea was that due to the work that health sciences students do and will go into in the future, they will have to deal with their own mental health challenges and cope with stress and other challenges that all students deal with, but they’ll also be called on in the future as they become doctors and working in the healthcare profession,” Coulombe said.

“The idea behind this partnership in the event was to merge the two perspectives, so part of the talk yesterday was really about mental health in general and mental health for students, but also some things that future healthcare professionals should know and will be dealing with, ways of supporting the wellbeing and mental health of their future clients.”

The event, which was free for all students to attend, was held in Lazaridis Hall with almost 100 students registering for the event as it aims to raise awareness of student specific mental health and well-being issues, encouraging conversations on campus and to sharing coping strategies and personal experiences between students for support.

“The reception was good, people were engaged, we even did a small exercise doing mindfulness altogether to talk about what the benefits of mindfulness but also some of the hesitations, I could see they were taking it seriously,” Coulombe said.

Mental illnesses mostly develop in late teens and early 20’s, which is the age many university students currently are. Both genetics and environments or situations can be factors of the development as well as a combination of both.

“Some of my grad students in the psychology program that I teach were there yesterday came and told me how it made them think about their goals and if it aligned or not with their mental health and wellbeing,” Coulombe said.

“My hope is that it gave people food for thought and that’s what I hope, I’m not pretending that it will make all the difference but if it will make them reflect a bit about what they’re doing for their mental health and well-being, part of the reason why people deal with this is because of the high level of stress in our lives.”

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