I would like to make an amendment to my first article, as I am comfortable admitting when I am in mistaken. One of the things I mentioned was Mental Health Week, of which I was critical. My experience last year with mental health week left me quite jaded as other than the keynote speaker at the beginning and the Wave event at the end, it seemed as though they were trying to force students to be happy during a time that is rather stressful. While stress relief activities are important it seemed as though the emphasis was on going on a scavenger hunt, picking songs that made you happy. choosing a sticker from a set, small selection that was supposed to somehow reveal the complexity of emotions that people feel, and playing in balls. It was less about mental health as a whole, or at least that is how I perceived it.
This year was different. The week started with an emotional personal story, and ended with the event at the Wave where people shared their experiences with Mental Health much like last year, and yes there were the fun, stress relieving activities throughout but there was more of an emphasis on individual experiences and the complexity of them.
I am not sure if there were more events this year or if they were simply better advertised but it definitely seemed to have something for everything. The Zen Zone offered a quiet, reflective place with helpful sessions throughout the week with very helpful sessions put on every day. Bubble soccer and yoga for people who wanted a more active stress reliever, a concert where the musician shared her own experiences with suicide in her family, and a lot of different workshops. Many groups seemed involved this year too, the International Relations Office, Mawi’Omi Centre and the student who runs the Diversity Office all were involved in presentations, and there was plenty of free food which is helpful to students in need financially.
Why can’t the university be like that all of the time? Not necessarily all of the events all of the time, as those are costly, but departments working together, offering education and support. Why is it sometimes a struggle to find a quiet place on campus that is not in the library, as well all know people are still loud even in the red zone. Why do we have a week devoted to Mental Health instead of a campus devoted to it? Counsellors on campus sometimes have a three week waiting period to see them and it is great that the service is there, that shows that it is obviously needed, but if students have to wait weeks to see someone, that should be a clue that more money should be going towards it. Some may say these initiatives are costly, and fear tuition going up. However, I believe that a truly diverse and inclusive campus, not just one that appears “diverse” on paper, would entice more students to attend. More students is more money, and isn’t that what administrations want.