While 1 in 5 may face a mental illness, 5 in 5 have mental health. That’s right everyone, just like physical health, mental health can be cared for, improved, and supported. Here in Wolfville, Acadia Mental Health works diligently to raise awareness and offer support to all the students on campus.
Acadia Mental Health considers their weekly meetings vital to their work on campus. The team meets regularly during the year and weekly when event weeks are coming up. These weekly meetings have acted as a way for students who are passionate or interested in Mental Health on Campus to meet like-minded peers, get to know each other, and work together for a common cause. Janet Aucoin, the Acadia Mental Health Coordinator, says that the meetings are about raising awareness in fun ways around campus and creating a sense of community within Acadia Mental Health. These meetings often consist of brainstorming and planning sessions for the various events as well as a game or two at the end so everyone can get to know each other.
When the Mental Health Weeks and Chill Weeks are approaching, they kick into full gear. They hold events, campaigns, giveaways and more around campus. According to Janet, the goal of the Mental Health and Chill Weeks are to, “…try and bring resources directly to the students through some of our events and campaigns. We also try and break down the barriers that may be preventing students from accessing resources”.
The first Mental Health Week of the 2015/2016 Academic year started off on a rough note after the Monday Movie night was cancelled, as was the week’s bonfire. Despite the setbacks they continued with several more events. The team was aware of the importance of physical health to one’s mental health, so they planned an active Workout Wednesday. Those who participated met down at the Athletic Complex to go for a run with Rick Metta around the Dykes. Therapeutic Thursday was the biggest event of the week with Break the Silence End the Stigma, My Wellness, the resource center, and Get Real all teaming up with Acadia Mental Health to hold the “I Define Me “campaign. Thanks to Break the Silence End the Stigma this event was held in the BAC where students were able to stop by to write what mental health and mental illness meant to them. They then had the option to hold up their sign and pose with it in a photograph. On top of this, there was information about resources on campus, as well as pins, bracelets, and information on My Wellness and Get Real. This appeared to be the highlight of the week and was met positively by the students who participated. It even received a wagging tail from Figgy, the school’s furry friend from Acadia Paws. The week then concluded with Foodie Friday, where Acadia Mental Health members were up bright and early handing out hot chocolate to lift the spirits of those facing their midterms.
For the next month or so Acadia Mental Health continued to grow as a community as they planned and prepared for their next major event, Chill Week. The Chill Weeks were designed with the hopes of giving students moments in their hectic final weeks of the semester, a small smile, or a moment to pause and relax. The week before Chill Week the Acadia Mental Health all sat down to music and put together one thousand Chill Kits for the students of Acadia. These were then handed out on the Monday alongside the Break the Silence End the Stigma’s T-Shirt campaign. The Chill Kits included many of their classic items as well as new ones such as; chocolate, condoms, tea, earplugs, coupons, information on campus resources and the occasional post it notes pad from CMHA. There that day with Break the Silence End the Stigma and Acadia Mental Health was the Annapolis Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, who provided information on services in the Valley. Throughout the day, they also had a Hammock Room in the SUB where students could go and take a break or a nap in one of the Hammocks to chill out during the day. The next day, the Pause Squad came to the library to give the students a fun and furry way to de-stress – that’s right, they brought dogs. That evening Acadia Mental Health held a movie night where they played Inside Out where a grand total of 105 people showed up – a huge success. The movie was, according to them, a fun way to get people talking about their mental health while enjoying the relaxing light-heartedness of a Pixar film. On Wednesday, the Pause Squad once again greeted the students who were studying away in the library. Earlier that evening the Acadia Mental Health held an “Espresso” Yourself Coffee House, where students were encouraged to come and perform or listen to others and to take a break from the long week of studying. Thursday the Pause Squad returned for their final visit of the week, and the group hosted an Improv Night in the SUB to give the students a well-deserved laugh. Lastly, Friday was a Pyjama day to raise awareness about mental health and mental illness on campus. They said that it was not only a fun way to try and get the people talking about mental health, but it also raised awareness around some of the challenges those struggling with their mental health face.
This past January, Acadia Mental Health held their second Mental Health Week of the academic year. After sitting down and discussing ideas at meetings, playing a bonding game or two, and creating plans for the events, they had their next major week laid out. Monday kicked it off with a popcorn and move night featuring ‘The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.” On Tuesday, Acadia Mental Health decided to focus on an informational event where they held a peer support education night with tea. The group brought in counsellors from the Student Resource Center to help those who attended learn about what it means to offer peer support, how you can help a friend, as well as understanding where one’s limits are in providing support. The event began a presentation and concluded with interactive discussions amongst the group. On Wednesday, Acadia Mental Health held a Twitter Party in the Peer Support Lounge for Bell Let’s Talk Day. Students from around campus were encouraged to hang out, enjoy some food and music, and Tweet with the hashtag #BellLet’sTalk. For Thursday’s event they decided to give the students a fun way to relax and enjoy some homemade sweets with a baking and board game night. They held the event in the Chapel’s Basement where Students could drop by to enjoy some fresh baking while playing a number of board games. Lastly, the week concluded with a Free Skate and Hot Chocolate down at the Ice Rink. The event was to promote again the importance of physical health to one’s mental health and to bring together students for an enjoyable break from their work.
While some events that Acadia Mental Health has put on have faired better than others these past seven months, their work and planning have lead to the execution of not one, but three fun-filled weeks for the Students of Acadia. Some of the events have kept their focus on creating enjoyable ways for the students to destress; others have encouraged education around student mental health here at Acadia. No matter what the event was, Acadia Mental Health tried to ensure that they reached out directly to students in ways that they felt would help them the most. With the next Chill Week coming up quickly, the Students of Acadia can be assured that Acadia Mental Health is focused on providing them yet another eventful week.