Mental wellness spreads on campus
This year, through the help of Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union as well as Laurier Student Public Research Interest Group (LSPIRG), some of the mental health issues at the forefront of student life have begun to be addressed.
Minds Alike, a student-led initiative and a working group of LSPIRG, provides an open space for students to come together and share experiences with issues of mental health.
“It’s new, we are trying to create a sort of community on campus for students who have experiences with mental health issues or the mental health system,” said Jay Harrison, founder of Minds Alike and graduate students at Laurier.
“It’s sort of a peer community, but the idea being that it’s a safe space for students who have those common shared experiences to come together and talk about what is important to them,” Harrison added.
Harrison talked of the challenges that come with encouraging students to talk about mental health. “It’s not easy because of the invisibility of it, to connect with other students who have those experiences. The idea was to have this as a space, a starting point to get people together.
“It’s just that, you know, it’s hard to talk about mental health on campus with our peers. Even with our families, you know? The thing is, the experiences we have in common are more than just struggles we’ve had but the things that come along with that. Dealing with relationships, or the stress of school or just other communities.”
The role of mental health in student life has in the past year become an important issue for WLUSU president and CEO Nick Gibson. Gibson has worked in partnership with WLUSU vice president of services Miranda Priestman to support groups like the student mental health strategy group, a long-term initiative on campus.
Priestman’s main goal is to meet shortfalls and close gaps in the needs of student mental health.
She has collaborated with the student mental health strategy group along with counselling services to provide a variety of options to students ranging from Student Connect, a open space in the 24-hour lounge for students to unwind with board games and chat, to Peer Help Line’s external campaigns which help raise awareness on campus.
Another on campus campaign, called Burst Your Bubble, wishes to create a welcoming community at Laurier that supports mental wellness by challenging its members to acknowledge and respond to the reality of mental health issues and the role they play in society.
The campaign has vocal support from the larger university community including Wilfrid Laurier University president and vice chancellor Max Blouw.