Recap: Mental Health Fair at Acadia

On Friday November 25th, the Acadia Players Association hosted a Mental Health Fair in Fountain Commons. Through the funds that were donated the previous year from the Athlete Auction held at the Axe Lounge, the committee organized an afternoon of guest speakers and visitors, who collectively helped to raise awareness towards Mental Health on Acadia’s Campus. This event was meant to bring together all students at Acadia so that they could unwind for an afternoon whether that meant making Christmas ornaments with the Clayground, learning drumming techniques, meditating, or even play with Timbit, a dog from the St. John’s Therapeutic Dog program.

To start off the event, our Athletic Director Kevin Dickie started off the speaker portion, but not only reflecting on what the day would look like, but what the purpose of this day was. In an intimate setting, speaking to around 60 people, all of our speakers were able to emphasize the importance of mental health awareness.

We were fortunate enough to have a guest speaker from Bell Aliant who works with Bell Let’s Talk. Jessie Bower is an individual who is living with a mental illness. Her inspirational speech left everyone in silence as she reflected on her personal story, growing up and being diagnosed as having a mental illness. It was amazing to see not only how intently people listened to her story, but also how many people took the opportunity to speak to her one on one, either asking about their own lives or asking on behalf of a friend.

To end the speaker portion of the event, Erica McGill from the Acadia Support Center on campus, came to talk to the students about the prevalence of Mental Health on campus, as well as the resources that are available.  She also spent some time in the down time portion of the afternoon, speaking to students one on one.It was extremely rewarding walking around seeing students learn about the facilities on campus, cuddle Timbit the dog, make posters about what mental health means to them and so much more. It was incredible to see how students really came together to listen about the issue, learn about how together we can work through it, and just in general have a fun afternoon. I myself participated in the meditation classes and played with Timbit!  The reality of mental health is that in some way or another, every single person is impacted by it. Whether it is with someone personally, a friend, or a family member. By recognizing how prevalent mental illness is, it is important to recognize that it’s not a negative identifier. It should not have this negative stigmatization, as it is not an uncommon trait. Something interesting that was established during the speaker portion of the event was that today, we focus so much on our physical health, ensuring that our bodies are healthy and properly functioning. Why is it that we don’t place the same emphasis on our mental health? Through personal experience, I have learned that if I am not placing enough importance on my mental health, physically I am unable to be my best. Its okay to not be okay, what is not okay is being too scared or embarrassed to try and find a solution. This was the first time this event was held at Acadia, and the hope is it will carry on for years to come.

It was extremely rewarding walking around seeing students learn about the facilities on campus, cuddle Timbit the dog, make posters about what mental health means to them and so much more. It was incredible to see how students really came together to listen about the issue, learn about how together we can work through it, and just in general have a fun afternoon. I myself participated in the meditation classes and played with Timbit!  The reality of mental health is that in some way or another, every single person is impacted by it. Whether it is with someone personally, a friend, or a family member. By recognizing how prevalent mental illness is, it is important to recognize that it’s not a negative identifier. It should not have this negative stigmatization, as it is not an uncommon trait. Something interesting that was established during the speaker portion of the event was that today, we focus so much on our physical health, ensuring that our bodies are healthy and properly functioning. Why is it that we don’t place the same emphasis on our mental health? Through personal experience, I have learned that if I am not placing enough importance on my mental health, physically I am unable to be my best. Its okay to not be okay, what is not okay is being too scared or embarrassed to try and find a solution. This was the first time this event was held at Acadia, and the hope is it will carry on for years to come.

Sarah Ross, Contributor

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