Laurier Let’s Talk helps to improve mental health initiatives with open conversations

Photo by Jackie Vang

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, Bridging the Gap hosted Wilfrid Laurier University’s first ever “Laurier Let’s Talk” event at the Paul Martin Centre.

The event took place during this semester’s Thrive Week and was the collaborative effort of the Laurier Wellness Centre and Bridging the Gap, a student-run club on campus which frequently runs workshops and events aimed at ending the stigma associated with mental health.

This particular event focused on bringing students together to truly spark an insightful discussion regarding stigmatized mental illnesses. The discussion was led formally by fellow student speakers, who courageously shared their stories about their own lived experiences with mental illness and how this effected their life while attending university.

“We tried to hit more of the more stigmatized disorders this year … those that aren’t talked about a whole lot,” said Ashley Siegel, co-president of Bridging the Gap.

“[They talked] about how they lived and made their recovery back into the university life,” Siegel said.

“Then we split off into a couple of workshops … we [had] workshops on how to improve sleep, hygiene, mental health and exercise, ones on how to write about your happy place — and some mindfulness techniques, so we [could] give people tangible things to take home with them.”

“This is the first one like this, but every year around Bell Let’s Talk Day we have a similar event to get people actually talking in person.”

“[The event was] completely free and Laurier Wellness [had] collaborated with us,” she said. The event also  offered complimentary desserts and drinks from David’s Tea for all students who attended.

Some of the speakers that came to speak to at Laurier Let’s Talk included Aristaea Murell, who discussed her on-going fight with anxiety, and Sarah Krestell, who spoke about her struggle with eating disorders.

Both Murell and Krestell are students at Laurier and spoke adamantly about the importance of ending the stigmatization of theses mental illnesses, as well as all mental illnesses for all people.

“Typically we host ‘Speak Up’ events throughout the year, which are more of an informal setting. We don’t have formal speakers prepared, so people can kind of just go up as they feel to tell their story or ask questions,” Siegel said.

“This is the first one like this, but every year around Bell Let’s Talk Day we have a similar event to get people actually talking in person.”

Although the event facilitated formally prepared guest speakers, Bridging the Gap encouraged all students to get involved in the conversations and share their own stories. The Paul Martin Centre at this time was a safe space for open dialogue regarding mental illness, in order to spread and share support for one another.

More information regarding Bridging the Gap and their ongoing mental health awareness initiatives can be found through their Facebook page.

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