Laurier hosts first-ever mental health showcase
On March 29, Wilfrid Laurier University history hosted its first mental health showcase titled, “The Mental Shift.”
The Mental Shift featured nine speakers who work in different areas of mental health. Drawing parallels to Ted Talk presentations, the speakers were given 10 to 15 minutes to share their perspectives on mental health with the audience. The questions they were asked focused on how to define mental health and solutions to mental health crisis, among others. They were also asked to discuss their personal experience and how their work has impacted mental health on different levels.
The showcase was headed by Karyn Kipper, co-president of Bridging the Gap, along with Alex Satok, president of Rotaract.
According to Kipper, the inspiration for the event came from Satok, who heard about the work that Bridging the Gap was doing and believed that combined, the two clubs would have the resources available to create the event. Kipper immediately jumped on board as she knew what impact the event could have.
The event had around 40 attendees, who all stuck around after the event for some more conversation regarding mental health. Guest speakers included Tyler Van Herzele, incoming Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union president, Leanne Holland Brown, dean of students, as well as Harold Albercht, MP for Kitchener-Conestoga.
Their inspiring stories urged others to come forward and gave praise to The Mental Shift event and its importance.
Kipper revealed that in terms of being a university student, there is still a stigma surrounding the fact that those with mental health issues can’t be successful. She hoped this event would allow students to talk openly and allow everyone to realize that students with mental health issues can be just as successful as their counterparts.
“Everyone has the potential to be contributors to society and we shouldn’t let them be stopped from being all they can be,” Kipper said.
She believes that when it comes to getting help, it is important to normalize mental health issues in order to encourage those struggling to come forward. She is a strong advocate for the expansion of resources, including mental health coverage by law as well as more psychiatrists and psychologists available in towns that are lacking. She hoped the event would show different perspectives with mental health and what solutions they had.
To further advocate, Kipper and Satok have started Voices of Laurier, a website where those with mental illness could share their stories and continue the conversation about mental health.
“I want to encourage everyone to share their story and ask for help. As Laurier students, there’s other resources besides the Wellness Centre available and if you just reach out, you can be connected with those resources. Just know that you may feel alone, but in reality, there’s probably hundreds of other students going through the same thing as you. You are not alone.”