Students promoting peer support and mental wellness wrapped up the first of a series of three events Thursday to promote conversations about mental health recovery and personal body positivity.
Find Your Light is a non-profit foundation that provides peer support for mental health. SMU Healthy Minds is a new organization supported by the university counselling centre that involves student volunteers who aim to educate students about psychological wellness and inform them of the resources for recovery treatment.
The two groups joined together for their first collaboration, which they called the Fingerprint Project. Students were encouraged to add their own inked fingerprint to a mural and write a word suggesting what mental health recovery means to them.
Once completed, the fingerprint mural will be hung in the Saint Mary’s Counselling Centre.
“We are trying to minimize the stigma around recovery and show how everyone’s journey is different and unique, just like a fingerprint,” said SMU psychology student Kelsey Fuhro and Find Your Light volunteer. “There’s no right or wrong way to recover and everyone’s journey is different.”
Youth mental health
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association:
- 10-20% of young Canadian experience a mental disorder, more than any other age group
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds in Canada
- Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrial world
- Mental health disorders for young people are ranked second after injuries for the highest hospital care expenditure
- the total of 12-19 year olds in Canada who are at risk for depression is 3.2 million
- once depression is recognized, help can return 80% of those affected to their regular activities
Hosting these events at SMU around primarily youthful students aims to target this vulnerable age group.
“Stress is very big for university students because of exams and all that. I think talking about it helps,” said Fuhro.
Since Find Your Light and SMU Healthy Minds both aim to help educate and provide resources about mental health, their collaboration is compatible.
“Linking up with SMU Healthy minds, who are affiliated with the counselling centre, brings the idea … that it’s OK to need to talk and there are services here to help you,” said Fuhro.
Joy Samuel, a counselling centre assistant and an alumni of SMU, believes the partnership is working well for SMU Healthy Minds as well.
“We just started working with everybody and I think it’s been really good collaboration so far. The Healthy Minds team people are enjoying working with them and being part of the project,” said Samuel.
On Feb. 26 the two groups will sponsor a body positivity discussion panel at the SMU Scotiabank Theatre. It will have speakers from different communities to discuss their views on positive body image, whether they be “fitness” or “curvy.” The panel will also include men who struggle with body image.
“For the first quarter of the year we are focusing on body positivity and then we are going to shift to a different area,” said Fuhro. “Along with the new year a lot of people will feel bad about their bodies, and a lot of people try and get healthier but they do it in the wrong way.”
They will also hold a body positivity fashion show, which is being planned and currently has no set date or venue.