Winter Thrive week provides students with valuable mental health resources

Wilfrid Laurier University’s sixth Thrive Week is underway on Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

The last week of January consists of a variety of events centered around mental health awareness and positivity.

Overseen by Laurier’s Mental Health Advisory Committee, Thrive Week events are free for all students and do not require registration to attend.

“Thrive began at the University of British Columbia in 2009. Laurier adopted the program in 2017 and now runs Thrive Week every October and January,”  Sarina Wheeler, manager of wellness education at Laurier’s Waterloo campus said.

“We have over 30 activities this week for students,”  Wheeler said. Some special highlights are the “Let’s Taco Bout It” mental health resource fair on Monday and the keynote presentation speaker on Wednesday. Wheeler said that the presentation will be provided by Ryan Martin, “a Laurier alum who cycled across Canada to raise funds for mental health supports.”

“In addition to our regular events, we are focusing on creating awareness of the diverse offerings of support both on campus and in the community,”  Nathan Reeve wellness education coordinator said.

“Since every person is unique and requires unique support, it is important to know what works best for you,” Reeve said.

On Monday, the “Let’s Taco Bout It” mental health resource fair in the concourse started off the week, providing students who attended the fair with free tacos.

Tuesday featured free yoga classes in the athletic complex and the Wellness Centre. In the evening, there was a speaker panel focused on networking and exploring careers in mental health at the Career Centre. Students could also go to a Latin dance class or rock climbing in the athletic complex, followed by meditation. Tuesday evening “Bingo With Twan” took place at Wilf’s restaurant. Wednesday is Bell Let’s Talk Day, where students can visit the athletic complex lobby to share their own messages of mental health awareness and read other messages of inspiration and resilience. The Wellness Centre will also be hosting a drop-in self-care workshop before noon.

In addition, alumni Ryan Martin’s talk will take place Wednesday afternoon and will delve into his own journey with mental health. Students can end the day with meditation, “Speak Up” with Bridging the Gap or enjoy rock climbing in the athletic complex.

To encourage students to get moving, the athletic centre will be providing free group exercise classes throughout the day on Thursday. Students are also invited to come out to the concourse from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to chat with the Dean of Students, Kate McCrae Bristol, and the Wellness team over free hot cocoa. For those who would like a little extra help destressing, Martin Luther University College will be hosting a “chilling with dogs” event from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Other events taking place Thursday include a mindfulness care package giveaway happening throughout campus from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. and free rock climbing in the evening.

To end the week, the Wellness Centre is continuing their weekly “Fresh Fruit Friday” initiative, where you can stop by and collect a piece of fresh fruit while supplies last. The Wellness Centre will be hosting mindful activities, snacks, and resources until 4 p.m. as part of their Wellness Recharge Space event.

“In terms of stuff happening around campus [for mental health awareness], I think it’s absolutely crucial given the amount of stress students are under,” Laurier Professor Jeff Heydon said.

“Overwhelmingly, profs want to help,” Heydon said. “But we’re also keenly aware of our limitations. When it’s something as serious as mental health, you don’t want to get it wrong.”

In addition to Laurier’s Wellness Centre, students are encouraged to visit the Delton Glebe Counselling Centre, not only during Thrive Week, but any time throughout the year.

“The Glebe Centre is a counselling agency that provides therapeutic services to clients at large in the KW area,” Delton Glebe executive director Neta Deonarain-Gear said.

The Glebe was founded in October of 2013 and has developed a strong presence in the Waterloo community. Growing rapidly, the Glebe Centre employs therapists and counsellors with a wide variety of cultural skills, values and languages.

“We exist not to duplicate services, but to fill gaps,” Gear said.

Every Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., the centre provides walk-in counselling provided by interns of Martin Luther University College.

“These are 50-minute sessions for anyone experiencing any crisis or needing to have access to services to determine what’s next to do,” Deonarain-Gear said.

“Someone will meet with you and help to ground you for that situation in that time frame and try to determine with you what you can do now and what to do in the future.”

Walk-in counselling works on a sliding fee scale, which are cheaper than the average standard market rate. The minimum cost is $20 per session. Gear states that the centre works to avoid waitlists, as they aim to support the community as promptly as possible.

“We believe in social justice and we work really hard to not have waitlists,” Deonarain-Gear said. Clients also have access to services in multiple languages as a means of making counselling more accessible to the community as a whole.

For more information about the Delton Glebe Centre, visit their website. A  full week of Thrive Week events can also be found on the programming website.

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