Let’s talk mental health. With one in five people being affected by mental health, Algoma University has increased its mental health services, providing students with more opportunities to seek counselling, talk about their health, and recognize stressors that can lead to poor health.
“Mental health issues directly or indirectly affect everyone,” said President and Vice-Chancellor Asima Vezina. “With mental health on the rise across Canada, it is crucial that we expand our programming to better serve our students. We are sympathetic to the stresses that students face and want to help them balance their academics and health to ensure they’re achieving success inside and outside the classroom.”
Recently, the University partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to be the first university in Canada to adopt the Talk Today program, one of the most comprehensive mental health programs for varsity sports.
Talk Today consists of several components including mental health and suicide-awareness workshops for student-athletes and Talk Today community awareness games on campus.
As part of the program, CMHA will train 120 student-athletes, 20 coaches, and three full-time staff in safeTALK, a workshop that teaches individuals about the importance of talking about mental health, how to recognize signs of suicide, seeking help when they’re in need of support, and connecting others in need of support to suicide first aid resources.
The University has also added additional counselling hours for all students. Algoma has established daytime counselling hours throughout the week with Counsellor Emily Youngson, in addition to evening and weekend counselling, provided by Counsellor Kerri Dool. From Monday – Saturday, day and night, students will have access to counsellors on campus.
A new peer-to-peer support program is also being developed. The program will pair students with other students who are experiencing similar barriers in their academic success.
On a one-on-one basis, students will talk about their issues and work to develop positive resolutions, while understanding that they are not alone in their struggles. In addition, the University will also be facilitating a group peer-to-peer program on Fridays at 1 p.m.
A mental health nurse will offer 10 hours of evening services per month to meet student mental health needs. The multi-disciplinary mental health team will be offering an on-campus Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) group to students who are impacted by trauma and emotional struggles.
Various Bell Let’s Talk Day events are being held on campus to promote positive dialogue about mental health, the University’s expanded services, and ending the stigma around mental health.
On Jan. 27, the Algoma Thunderbirds are hosting Bell Let’s Talk Day basketball games in the George Leach Centre. Game times are 6 p.m. (women) and 8 p.m. (men). On Jan. 31, the University will be taking part in the national campaign, and hosting various activities, including those that promote self-care and connecting students to services.
For more information, please visit www.algomau.ca/health-services.