Thrive Week seeks to challenge stigma around mental illness on campus

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Photo by Jackie Vang

This week Wilfrid Laurier University will be holding its Thrive Week, a once-per-semester week of scheduled events and sessions geared towards raising awareness and support for mental health, as well as opening up a dialogue to end stigma around student mental illness.

‘“For Thrive Week, our purpose is to create awareness and support for student mental health and educate students on what’s available on campus and in the community,” said Nathan Reeve, Wilfrid Laurier University’s wellness education coordinator. 

This term, he said, the wellness education centre is focussed on helping students develop the necessary coping skills and tools in order to navigate student life.

Laurier’s Thrive Week is a strong-standing affair that has only grown in size and support since 2017 when it was introduced to the campus. 

“We have some new and exciting things, like therapy dog yoga. We have financial wellness [events]. We’re also giving out 700 mental health tool kits this week — everyday we’re spending time in a different location [on campus] and giving away these kits,” Reeve said. 

“We’re also having a ‘connect over cocoa’ on Bell Let’s Talk day on Wednesday — in the concourse from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Leanne Holland Brown, [Dean of students], the vice-president of student affairs, David McMurray and our director of the Wellness Centre, Karen Ostrander are spending time in the concourse and offering cocoa to anyone that wants to share their thoughts on our mental health services.”

“They really want to hear what students have to say, so that we can keep doing better,” he said.

The Thrive mental health toolkits are a new addition to what Thrive Week typically offers. 

For the remainder of the week, Laurier will be bustling with a variety of mental wellness events such as free group exercise classes all day long at the Athletic Complex on Thursday, as well as giveaways of fresh fruit, juices and energy bites on Friday.

These kits were created with the goal of providing more tactical resources for students in order to tackle their mental wellness with free items and information about free on-campus mental health services. 

“[They include] free mental health resources and items that are based on the concept of grounding and mindfulness. So we have items that are surrounding the five senses and really what we’re trying to do is encourage students to be mindful and know what works best for them so they can utilize their five senses and really when they’re feeling stressed or anxious; they can utilize items that sooth these in order to lower their own levels of stress and anxiety,” Reeve said.

This semester’s Thrive Week’s events have a diversity of professionals assisting in their facilitation. 

Events, such as the “coping with difficulty” workshop, will be run by counsellors at the Wellness Education Centre. 

As well, Thrive Week’s eight physical workshops are being run by Athletic Centre staff members. 

Laurier Thrive week continues to have a tremendous amount of support from student volunteers who are enthusiastic to share their support at events such as the canvas paint party, which took place on Monday — and Laurier Let’s Talk on Tuesday. 

For the remainder of the week, Laurier will be bustling with a variety of mental wellness events such as free group exercise classes all day long at the Athletic Complex on Thursday, as well as giveaways of fresh fruit, juices and energy bites on Friday. 

“If students have any feedback on what they want to see, I’m happy to accept any,” added Reeve. “The Wellness Centre has a feedback form on our website.”

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