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Mental health on campus

With the start of week eleven, it is important to remember there are many mental health awareness initiatives on campus that strive to improve the student body’s mental well-being.

The pressure to stay on top of studies is at an all time high.

Finals are just around the corner, and those papers seem to never end.

Some begin to feel the stress and anxiety associated with completing assignments and writing tests.

For awareness and education on mental health, SAITSA provides awareness events outside of the Student Support Centre.

These events include: Mental Health Awareness Week, Addictions Awareness Week, No Violence Awareness Day, De-stress Fest during the semester, Puppy Room hosted once a month and more.

“To promote student connectedness and create a safe environment, we operate the SAITSA Student Support Centre,” said Thao Nguyen, SAITSA VP of Student Life and a current part-time student in the Business Leadership course.

“The SAITSA Student Support Centre (SSC) is an inclusive, non-academic space designed for students to gather, socialize and actively participate in initiatives that promote mental health and personal well-being,” said Nguyen.

The SSC is located in NJ105 in the Senator Burns Building, and they are open from 9 a.m. till 8 p.m.

Recently, the hours have been extended to serve students who stay on campus later.

“The number of student visits [to the SSC] has increased to almost 1,200 students per month compared with 300 visits two years ago,” said Nguyen.

This year Mental Health Awareness Week was a great success.

SAITSA served almost 1,000 students through the events during the week.

“Mental Health Awareness Week is just a small piece of the puzzle in dealing with awareness and education about mental health and mental health disorders,” said Nguyen.

“However, it sets the tone for the whole year about our commitment and directions in dealing with students’ wellness.” SAITSA had the support of many SAIT departments and external organizations outside of the SAIT community to host Mental Health Awareness Week.

One department students should note is the SAIT Student Development and Counselling Services located in room MA 205 in the Heritage Hall Building, and open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.

On the Student Development and Counselling Services website, students can take a test titled “How are you doing? Really.”

The first question is ‘How have you been feeling lately?’ followed by six different categories.

Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Eating Disorder, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Each section is followed by a series of questions to help students better understand themselves and where they are at mentally.

“I think it is important to promote the culture of seeking help in our SAIT community,” said Nguyen. “There are many resources out there that are underutilised mostly because students aren’t aware of them or haven’t tried them yet.” SAITSA and SAIT services are set up to be able to refer students to the exact place for their needs.

Nguyen suggests students dealing with a mental health disorder seek medical treatment to educate themselves on what their illness is, and to inform their families, friends, classmates, and school about the illness so they can be of help when needed.

Jane Smith (real name withheld) said, “Dealing with depression and PTSD while attending school full-time has been a challenge to say the least, but with the amount of attention SAIT and its community has given to mental health awareness, it makes me feel a little more comfortable.

“Like I’m not alone.”

Wellness Wednesdays is something Smith looks forward to. Hosted by SAITSA, every Wednesday on campus there are various activities and events to partake in. Every Wednesday begins with a free breakfast at 9am in the Irene Lewis Atrium outside MC107, free Tea & Learn in SSC from 12 – 1 p.m., and free yoga from 5 – 6 p.m. in SSC provided by SAIT Athletics and Recreation. As well as, twice a month free massages are provided by Makami College in the Irene Lewis Atrium.

Keep an eye out for next semesters Button Campaign hosted by SAITSA. The buttons will have positive messages about mental health disorders. “We are also hosting the self-care campaign to raise awareness about the act of self-care and how to practice it,” said Nguyen.

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